A Public Relations (PR) and Communication Consultant, Mr. Gayheart Mensah, has criticised political messages shared during the presentation of budget statements in recent times – arguing that they are often empty messages with little truth, no honesty, no accountability and no respect for the audience’s intelligence.
He said, ordinarily, such political communication should contribute to growth and enhance Ghana’s democratic development – yet political communicators and presenters of the budget have, through unethical conduct, made ‘words’ so ineffective and meaningless that it requires a campaign to restore credence and decorum to the word budget.
He was speaking in Accra at the Biannual Faculty Guest Lecture Series – Department of Communication Studies, University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA). The topic was ‘PR Ethics and Political Communication in an Election Year: Challenges, Prospects and Recommendations for Democratic Development’. He insisted that the delivery of budget statements under the Fourth Republic lends itself to analysis of how unethical political communication has taken over political conduct in the country.
“In 2017, the budget was christened ‘Asempa’ (Good News) Budget. After implementation, it left us with no good news – no asempa. In 2018 it was ‘Adwuma’ (Jobs) Budget. That was in the midst of controversial banking sector reforms which led to loss of jobs. Unemployment was also stark during that period, and even now. In 2019 it was ‘Mpuntuo’ (Development) Budget. When your car dips into a man-hole on the motorway – Ghana’s premier highway – you will question your understanding of ‘Mpuntuo’.
“In 2020 it was ‘Nkosuo ne Nkabom’ (Development and Unity) – yet the voter-registration exercise that year and in subsequent elections were nowhere near ‘Nkabom’. In 2021, it was ‘Won ya wor hien’ (Making Progress) budget. The ‘abaa ba s33’ (retrogression) in that year and the following one is what has landed Ghana in today’s state of deprivation, economic malaise and impoverishment.
In 2022 it was ‘Agyenkwa’ (Salvation) Budget. This is where I wish I could sing ‘Awurade b3 gyi steer noooo!’. Indeed, ‘Agyenkwa’ remains with the Lord Almighty. Last year, again it was ‘Nkabom’ (Unity) Budget. We were back to ‘Nkabom’, meaning the 2020 ‘Nkabom’ was neither intended nor pursued. No wonder we are now told a new president will come and take us to the ‘promised land’.
On the back of the above analysis, Mr. Mensah suggested that the 2024 budget should be named the ‘Aany3 yie’ (it did not work out) Budget – because none of the budgets since 2017 have lived up to its name; neither have they met the expectations, hopes and aspirations of Ghanaians.
Mr. Mensah said spinning, as is seen with delivery of the budget statements, has done damage to the image of PR and political communication; and hence called for a restoration of dignity and integrity to political communication, so that messages from both corporate organisations and political communicators will have a degree of believability.
He cautioned against such unethical political communication in the build-up to the 2024 general elections campaign, saying: “If we do not restore credibility and integrity to political communication, we risk stalling our democratic development”.