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A campaign vehicle of the opposition NDC drives past a billboard of Nana Akufo-Addo, the President and NPP candidate A campaign vehicle of the opposition NDC drives past a billboard of Nana Akufo-Addo, the President and NPP candidate  (AFP or licensors)

Ghana elections: The challenge of fake news and partisan reporting

Ghana’s leading Catholic newspaper, The Catholic Standard, has thrown its weight behind an initiative that is intended to help the voting public distinguish between authentic and fake news.

Paul Samasumo - Vatican City.

Ghana’s National Media Commission (NMC) and Soft Masters have come up with a mobile application (App) dubbed the “Ghana Elections Monitoring App” to help determine the circulation of fake news ahead of the 7 December presidential and parliamentary elections.

Ghana’s The Catholic Standard newspaper has welcomed the development as timely. By way of detecting fake news, the App shows the exact location, and the time videos or pictures, distributed on social media, were taken to determine their authenticity or otherwise.

Ghana Elections Monitoring App

The App is also meant to help address questions of misinformation and fake news. The idea of the initiative is to discourage the circulation of fake news and promote peaceful, credible, free and fair elections.

Using the App, Ghanaians will be able to fact-check and independently verify information about election-related stories and incidents.

Elections in a COVID-19 era

The development of the App has also been welcomed because elections are being held in a COVID-19 environment.

“In this era of COVID-19 where political parties are unable to hold rallies and other activities to communicate their policies to the electorates, the media has a more important role to play by providing a platform for the political parties and candidates to communicate their messages to the electorates as well as educate voters on how to exercise their democratic rights,” said the The Catholic Standard.

Partisan reporting misinforms the public

The national Catholic weekly paper, criticised Ghanaian media for resorting to partisan reporting at the expense of balanced news.

“Unfortunately, the media in Ghana has more often than not neglected its responsibility and engaged in partisan and bias reporting. The situation is worse for those who rely solely on social media for information. The Catholic Standard believes that this attitude should give way to serious, committed, and professional journalism, particularly that we are at the climax of political campaigns throughout the country. The media’s basic role is to enlighten and educate the public and act as a neutral, objective platform for the free debate of all points of view,” reads the Accra based newspaper.

Twelve presidential candidates

These will be Ghana’s eighth presidential and parliamentary elections since the country returned to multiparty democracy in 1992

Twelve candidates have been cleared by Ghana’s Electoral Commission to contest the presidential election. The two leading candidates are the incumbent President Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) who is being challenged by former President John Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Credible elections

Notwithstanding the challenges of fake news and inflammatory language accessible on Ghana’s social media platforms, there is hope that the country will pull-off a relatively free and credible election.

Credible and peaceful polls in Ghana would be a most welcome relief for West Africa after Guinea and Ivory Coast’s presidential elections. Elections in the two countries became embroiled in controversy and in some cases, violent disputes.

04 December 2020, 17:13