Claim: Minister for Sanitation Freda Prempeh blamed the media for misrepresenting her. She denies accusing the Akosombo Dam Spillage victims of refusing to evacuate despite warnings.
Verdict: This is false. DUBAWA Ghana has analysed the speech in which the Minister claimed she was taken out of context and has found that she did accuse the victims of refusing to evacuate.
Minister for Sanitation Freda Prempeh has accused the media of misquoting her and taking her comments out of context when she spoke about the Akosombo Dam spillage disaster victims.
The Minister has faced public backlash for comments she had made at a Ghana Water Company Limited event on Oct. 23.
Several media reports suggest that the minister partially blamed the flood victims for the disaster for refusing to evacuate.
“The Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, Freda Prempeh, has said the government cannot be blamed entirely for the misfortunes of the flood victims following the spillage of the Akosombo and Kpong dams. That, she said, was because, despite the best efforts of key agencies to evacuate people ahead of the spillage, they refused to pay heed to authorities,” state media, Graphic, published on its website.
But the Minister, in a recent engagement with the press, denied saying that disaster victims refused to evacuate the area despite warnings from authorities.
Some media organisations have posted a video of this interaction on social media.
“There has been a spillage in Akosombo, and many people have been displaced. I was just emphasising the need for people to pay heed to evacuation calls from authorities so that we can be protected from disasters. But I have been misunderstood. They are saying that I said they refused to evacuate when they were warned about the impending disaster. I never said that, and I want to put it on record,” she claimed in the Akan language.
Her denial has triggered another wave of discussion, especially on radio and television, about whether or not she made the comment or was misrepresented by the media.
The spillage and its repercussions have become an issue of national emergency, so DUBAWA decided to investigate and analyse the content of the minister’s comment in the wake of the disaster.
Did the Minister say that flood victims refused to evacuate the area despite warnings from authorities?
Several leading media organisations, such as JoyNews, have published a video capturing the part of her speech in which she commented. Thus, DUBAWA did a content analysis of the statement.
“The Akosombo spillage, even though VRA, NADMO, and the Water Resources Commission came together to educate the people in the community, did simulation exercise with them even at Mepe, yet they refused to leave. They didn’t want to be evacuated. They stayed there till the end when we started spilling,” she said.
Evidently, the Minister, during her speech, said that victims of the disaster did not want to be evacuated. It is, therefore, clear the media accurately reported what the minister said about some of the residents in the affected communities.