The Media Foundation for West Africa is very much appalled by the resurgence of insults and other forms of indecent expression in political discourse in Ghana within the past few days.
What makes the current situation extremely regrettable is that the perpetrators of the use of offensive language on radio stations are among the leadership of political parties in the country. While the resort to hate speech and abusive language by party foot soldiers and serial callers is also worrying, the involvement of party leaders in such conduct becomes particularly disturbing.
A case in point in the current spate of the resort to abusive language in political debates is the recent exchanges between the National Chairman of the National Democratic Party (NDP), Dr. Nii Armah Josiah-Aryeh and the General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Mr. Johnson Asiedu Nketiah. The ongoing leadership election by the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has also witnessed the use of highly intemperate language among some leading figures of the party against one another.
The MFWA is equally appalled by the unethical and unprofessional conduct of some presenters of morning shows and political discussion programmes who are allowing their platforms to be used by affiliates of the various political parties to abuse opponents and competitors. A number of presenters are also becoming notorious for urging on politicians to abuse each other in the name of making their programmes “hot” and to attract post-programme media attention.
While freedom of expression should and must always thrive, it is important to recognise that the quality of our politics, the development of our governance system and the nation at large, depends on the level of competition of ideas and innovation, and our ability to implement the best of such ideas rather than the capacity of politicians to abuse each other.
The MFWA thus calls on all politicians to focus on debating ideas rather than trading insults. At the same time, we urge the Ghanaian media, to do a lot more enterprise journalism and avoid the practice of allowing their platforms to be used as theatres for insults among politicians.
Issued by the MFWA in Accra on February 19, 2014
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