CJ calls for non-partisan approach to fight corruption (Monday, November 4, 2013) Pg 16

THE Chief Justice, Mrs  Georgina Theodora Wood, has challenged the Ghanaian media to adopt a non-partisan approach to the fight against corruption to promote accountability.

“The fight against the retractable and pervasive corruption can only be won if the media adopt a non-partisan approach to their role as a mutual body to draw attention to the need for accountability and solutions for tackling the problem,” she said at last Saturday’s Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) Awards night.

The Chief Justice’s remarks came on the heels of a wave of allegations of corruption and impropriety that have engulfed the state.

Over the past few months, reported cases of financial impropriety involving the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA), Savannah Accelerated Development Authority projects, Subah Infosolutions Limited’s failure to live up to contract terms with the Ghana Revenue Authority to provide telecommunication traffic monitoring, even though it was paid some GHc144 million have sent tongues wagging concerning the government’s commitment to fight corruption.

Held on the theme, “Promoting Healthy Partnership and Fruitful Partnership in Governance: The Role of the Media,” the awards were a moment to honour the country’s outstanding journalists.

In all, 20 journalists who excelled in their reportage last year were honoured, along with five veteran journalists who contributed immeasurably to the growth of the GJA and the media in Ghana.

History

Started in 1971, when Owusu Boateng of the Weekly Spectator emerged as the first winner of the topmost award, the awards are the GJA’s flagship programme which brings journalists, captains of media, the corporate world and policy makers together to celebrate the work of media personnel.

Prize package

This year, Kingsley Obeng Kyere of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation was adjudged the GJA-Prof P.A.V. Ansah Journalist of the Year. His prize is a $20,000 scholarship package to study in the UK for two months and a week’s internship with a UK media house.

Other winners received 32-inch Samsung LED TV sets, plaques and certificates of honour.

With the public clamouring for a tough stance against corruption and the prosecution of persons involved in the act, the Chief Justice observed, “Our structures must be built and nourished by able, visionary, honest and decent leaders in public affairs.”

“Ghana’s democracy is still developing, institutions are still being built….the country still needs women and men of integrity who will put their love for the country first.

“If the media were to commit themselves to the development agenda of this country, they will realise that greed, corruption and abuse of office, nepotism, conflict of interest and all such adversarial vices which have become the bane of our society must be fought with vengeance and without subjectivity.

In a speech that touched on the role of the media during the 2012 election petition hearing, Mrs Justice Wood said the decision to allow cameras into the courtroom for the first time in the country’s history made a huge difference.

“Election petitions do not only reflect in the independence of the Judiciary but also the unique part it plays in democratic governance. This must be left to resonate as part of the effort to promote healthy partnership and fruitful partisanship in the governance of our entire country. The rule of law plays the most central role in this development,” she said.

Even though the election petition had gone on peacefully without any hitches, the aftermath was not lost on Mrs Justice Wood.

“Bashing and unwarranted attacks on selected judges and a group of judges whose decision we didn’t agree with came up after the court had delivered its opinion. This was unfortunate, given that over time we have emphasised the lawful parameters within which decisions emanating from the various arms of government, not just the Judiciary, will be subjected to legitimate criticism or scrutiny.

“This is a most dangerous and unhealthy activity and does not in any way promote soundness and national unity or cohesion. On the contrary, it breeds hatred and perpetrates animosity.

“Justice is rooted in confidence. Judicial independence is not for the comfort of the individual judge but the protection of the system as a whole. The protection of the rule of law and the well-being of society are principles and must be applied with equal force to all branches of the government,” she said.

On the growing concern over ethical conduct of Ghana’s media, the Chief Justice said while the call for censorship, because of the chaos in media content, was not in tandem with the principles of democracy, there was the need for the GJA and the National Media Commission (NMC) to promote a strong  self-regulation mechanism.

The Chairman of the NMC, Ambassador Kabral Blay-Amihere, said while media criticism was necessary for good governance, it must not undermine national institutions such as the Presidency and chieftaincy but rather strengthen them through criticism.

He urged the media not to compromise on their role as watchdogs while they sought to partner the government to help with the country’s development.

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