After the secretariat of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) refused to get me registered as a member of the Association in their bid to keep membership under control for whatever purposes, it has emerged that they have also denied me of my right to enjoy money paid to the GJA by the Copy Right Office for distribution to those who have written articles in media outlets all over the country.

In fact, from what one veteran journalist Mr Addokwei Moffat, posted on his Facebook wall, the GJA has regularly received money from the Copy Right office over the past three years but have not paid out anything to anyone. Mr Moffat knows about this because he is a member of the Ghana Association of Writers (GAW) and has also been a member of the Ghana Broadcasting Board. Therefore, such a person will not just post anything on his Facebook wall.

From his postings, the GAW has regularly distributed money that they received from the Copy Right Office. But the GJA has remained silent on what it takes from the Copy Right Office. This in itself is criminal but because members and those who should benefit do not know, the GJA continue to deny them their right.

From inquiries l have made from those who are even members of the GJA, nothing is known about how the money from the Copy Right Office is used for. If the members do not know that such money has been received by the GJA over the past years, isn’t it time someone questioned the executives.

In fact, one journalist told me until Mr Moffat’s post appeared on Facebook, no one had a clue that the Association ever gets any funding from anywhere. It is also surprising that members of the Association are not demanding answers from the GJA leadership. I am not surprised that journalists have remained silent because when those of us who were denied registration were complaining, they did not talk for us. Now, they do not see any reason to even question where money meant for all of us have been used on other things.

There is no way the GJA leadership can say that they have used the money on the Association because the members have told me there have not been to any meeting to be told that the GJA receives this money and there is no record to show how the money has been distributed.
This is a question that the leadership of the GJA will not want to be asked because they do not have the right answers. For them, this is an issue that should never come to light. It is amazing what journalists in this country have done to themselves and yet would like to be listened to when they write about corruption.

Last year, l watched the number of companies that donated several thousands of Cedis to the association to organize the Annual Awards Night. A scan through the newspapers reveal that so much was given out to them but, our journalists have not bothered to question how their executives spent what was given them.

One would have expected that for an association that likes to expose corruption, they would hold their leaders to account. But no, they have kept their logs in their eyes and then want to remove the specks in the eyes of others in society. There are many like me who would like to ask questions but do not have the locus as members of the GJA.

In fact, when Moffat made his posting on Facebook, l had expected many journalists to take the matter up to ask questions. In the first place, Moffat is alive and from the way he made his posting, he is ready to give more details but, from the last check, it was only one person, Lloyd Evans who asked for more explanation on the matter. Even so, as someone who is contesting Affail-Monney, l expected him to push for this issue to be investigated. He has left it, either because he is afraid or just cannot be bothered.

Those of us who write but have received no payment from the newspapers and online portals believe that we need to ask questions. Why is that the GAW distributes what they get from the Copy Right Office and the GJA refuses to distribute what they get? Who spends the money and how come journalists do not even know that such money is paid out to their mother association?

If nothing at all this is a very big campaign issue for the GJA. This is better than the name calling that l have seen on social media. For me, it is akin to some kind of deceit on the part of the executives to keep the entire members in darkness. It is painful for me because the money is meant for those who have written and l am not sure Affail-Monney himself has written anything within the past one year.

I think that those like me who have written stuff and got them published in the Ghanaian media should wake up and stop this rip-off by the GJA. It is a criminal act and it is better we let those in authority hear of this the better. The Copy Right Office can use this as a basis to ask questions and perhaps take the executives to its Tribunal to explain how they have been distributing their share of the Reprographic Tax? If the leaders of the GJA cannot explain, they can be sanctioned appropriately.

If nothing is done, the GJA executives should take this as my warning, that l am consulting with my lawyers and they will soon hear from us. It is because of the impending election that has kept me from asking my lawyers to take up the matter. If Affail-Monney does not want to go to court again, he should come out on this issue. If not, after the election, they will hear from us. For that reason, Lloyd Evans must also know that a court action is awaiting him on the subject of the money from the Copy Right office if he wins the election, so the earlier, he started asking the relevant questions, the better.

It is a big wonder to me that Affail-Monney who as Director of Radio of the GBC did not make any name as such but rather, he is known as the President of the Ghana Journalist Association. This should tell the members that he is not a good journalist. This is what l call misplaced priorities and it is for this reason that, they must explain where the Copy Right Office money is gone!

By George Kojo Sam


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