13 September 2011
The ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) has held a crisis meeting at the Castle to devise ways and means to contain the Wikileaks revelations as they put the party in a bad light.
According to sources, the meeting, attended by senior government and party officials last Thursday, concluded that henceforth no NDC official who was exposed in the United States Embassy leaked cables should grant interview to the media or make any public pronouncements on the matter.
The decision to seal the lips of the affected people, the sources said, ‘is not in anybody’s interest’ and they could not pick and choose since most of the cables were about personalities still serving in the government.
In the leaked cable, Hannah Tetteh, Minister for Trade and Industry, and former Director of Communications of the National Democratic Congress, told the United States officials that the party founder, former President Jerry John Rawlings, was a ‘loose cannon who sometimes loses sight of his role’.
The US embassy officials described former President Jerry Rawlings as a key player in the NDC campaign, a larger-than-life presence whose populist touch and bombast rouse crowds that reach beyond the party faithful.
Ms Tetteh said: ‘Rawlings was ‘a blessing and a curse,’ vital to the cause for his charismatic appeal, but equally risky as a loose cannon who sometimes loses sight of his role.’
She also explained why the NDC opted for Joyce Bamford Addo as Speaker of Parliament.
‘She [Joyce Banmford Addo] was seen as someone who would take orders and be malleable to party discipline,’ Hannah Tetteh revealed to the discomfiture of the NDC leadership in parliament.
She said that ‘for important votes, the party would remove Addo and put the First Deputy Speaker, Edward Adjaho, into her place as a stronger enforcer’.
The leaked cable further stated that Hannah Tetteh had an inkling that the NDC’s National Chair would be replaced at the party’s post-election congress to elect party leaders, adding that it was probably because Dr Kwabena Adjei ‘…lacks maturity — and I don’t mean because of his age.’
The crisis meeting, DAILY GUIDE gathered, was held in the wake of the opposition New Patriotic Party’s Young Patriots’ claims that about $5million was spent on President John Atta Mills’s health annually.
Since the revelations in the secret cables, it has become apparent that the two main political parties, NDC and NPP, are poised for a tit-for-tat over their flag-bearers on the contents of the leaks.
The NDC, whose leading members, including ministers of state have stated publicly that they believe in everything published in the secret cables, have asked the ‘Okro mouth’ officials to ‘keep quiet’ and allow their communication team to handle the issues emanating from the cables.
It was learnt that the NDC might start playing down on reports in the cables because they had realized that some of the contents might not help their cause.
Vice President John Dramani Mahama, on Friday at the 16th Ghana Journalists award night, dropped the first hint when he said ‘the recent Wikileaks cables have accentuated the media warfare. Nothing matters any more. Reprinting the juiciest gossips from the US Embassy cables provides a media that was already polarized on partisan lines, enough ammunition and firepower to pound one’s opponents for the rest of the year.’
He said, ‘The cables were meant to be confidential and if they remained so, there would be no problem. Unfortunately, Julian Assange and his Wikileaks organization have opened a real Pandora’s Box. Well, Wikileaks has its positive side. It shows what happens with even the most casual conversations we may have with foreign diplomats.’
He noted, ‘A cursory look at our media would seem like we are a nation at war.
Newspapers and radio stations are lined up in the political trenches with their political allies or paymasters, throwing printed and verbal grenades and taking pot shots at the ‘enemy lines.’ Each side is trying to outdo each other in inflicting maximum damage on the perceived ‘enemies’.’
The diplomatic cable which has been released from the archives tackles all political parties in the country from the years 1997 to 2010, exposing especially issues affecting personalities of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) with a few trickles here and there on PNC’s Dr. Edward Mahama and CPP’s Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom.
The leaks have also brought journalists on a head-on collision, with most of them trading accusations and counter accusations.
Baba Jamal, a deputy Minister of Information, and Fiifi Kwetey, a deputy Minister of Finance, have also popped up as having made statements to diplomats, including the revelation by Baba Jamal that President Mills was suffering from throat cancer.
Others are Akrasi Sarpong, the Executive Secretary of Narcotics Control Board; Ben Ephson, a self-acclaimed pollster and Editor of Daily Dispatch; as well as Kwesi Pratt, Managing Editor of Insight.
The rest are Dr. Kwesi Aning of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Center, Johnson Asiedu-Nketia, General Secretary of the NDC and Alban Bagbin, Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing.
All officials who commented on this issue did not want to be quoted.