Ghanaian journalists go full throttle during election 2012

Contrary to fears that the contribution of Ghanaian journalists to the country’s elections this year would be close to negligible because they were not privileged to do early or special voting as has been the case in previous elections, the media has been very visible in every nook and cranny of the country.

This, it is believed, is as a result of a special dispensation accorded all media persons accredited by the Electoral Commission to cover the elections.

In the absence of the special voting, presiding officers at all of the country’s 26,000 polling stations were instructed to permit any media person at their stations to enjoy preferential voting, so they would be able to adequately cover the elections after casting their ballot.

The plan ‘B’ seems to have made an otherwise disturbing situation better, although some reports indicate that media persons who were deployed to other parts of the country by their establishments had to sacrifice their votes in order to carry out their assigned duties.

All in all however, the members of Ghana’s inky fraternity, as journalists are called, lived to their mantra as the Fourth Estate of the Realm after the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, by going all out and reporting progress at all polling stations and glitches experienced in the exercise.

Indeed more than one reporter from various media was found at almost all polling stations visited, with indications at others of earlier visits by the press. The massive involvement of the Ghanaian press has further bolstered transparency in Ghana’s electoral process and also opened happenings in Ghana to the outside world.

Through the very effective reportage of the media in Ghana, which has run commentary on the country’s sixth consecutive electoral process since 1992 even before it begun, problems such as faulty biometric verification equipment, the absence of security persons and the late or non-arrival of election materials and officers have been made known and adequate measures put in place in most instances.

Pockets of violence at some polling stations and indeed attempts to filch ballot boxes have also been widely published by the media, through all-day election programmes on different networks, some of which have been named “Election Headquarters”, “Election House”, “Election Strongroom” and “Election 2012” among others.

According to Madam Sylvia Annor, Principal Public Relations Officer, Electoral Commission of Ghana who spoke to Accra-based radio station Peace FM on why journalists could not do special voting as had been the case in previous elections, “the tables have turned.”

She stated thus: “There are several changes in the electioneering processes. The new law being used, CI 72 indicates that anybody who wants to take part in the early voting, you must work with the electoral commission or security personnel who will be busy on the Election Day. Even that you have to write an application to the EC 42 days before elections…”

For his part, the EC Chair, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan said at a media dialogue organised by the Editors Forum, Ghana (EFG) and sponsored by the EC on the topic: “On Election 2012: the EC’s preparations and related matters” that as the law stands now, it is only security men and EC officials who will be going out of their constituencies to supervise the elections that are permitted to partake in the early voting.

The EC Chair explained that the biometric system posed a challenge since each journalist had registered at a different polling centre and that meant creating a new polling centre for journalists.

It will be recalled that following the announcement by the EC that journalists will not be allowed to do early voting as the new law stipulates, the General Secretary of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Bright Blewu, called on Parliament on Thursday November 15, 2012, to convene an emergency sitting to amend CI 72 which bars journalists from taking part in the early voting.

This however was not done by the legislature, hence journalists voting together with the Ghanaian citizenry on December 7, 2012.

By Edmund Smith-Asante

1 Comment
  1. aboagye prince says

    npp will win dis election

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