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Lying to the Electorates: The ‘Confessions’ of John Mahama Fact-checked

5 mins read

News reports and social media claim John Mahama has confessed to telling lies during election campaigns.

Mostly False. Although a 2016 video shows the former president making comments to the effect that some politicians tell lies during election campaign periods in order to win the support of electorates, the quotes being attributed to him are false. Furthermore, no evidence could be found to suggest the former president made the comments during his most recent tour of the Volta region.

Full Text

A Facebook user suggests that John Mahama, National Democratic Congress’ Presidential candidate, has “confessed” to lying during campaign periods.

“As politicians, before the masses can accept you and endorse you, you will have to do the unthinkable. You have to go beyond what you yourself believe you can do. If you have to lie to them, you do so, and this is our way of doing things as political actors,” Mr Mahama is reported to have said.

Image source: Facebook.com

According to the post, John Mahama made the confession during his Volta region tour. The post did not, however, mention the exact date of the said event where this claim was made.

This same post has been carried on some social media news platforms, generating a multitude of shares and comments and has even been posted on YouTube with 3,352 views as of June 25th, 2020.

We look at this claim in two ways:

  1. Did John Mahama confess to telling lies during his Volta Region Tour as reported by the abcnew.com newspaper?
  2. Has Mahama ever confessed to telling lies during campaigns?

Verification

www.abcnew.com newspaper and the ‘confessions’ of John Mahama: Did John Mahama confess to telling lies during his Volta Region Tour?

Dubawa ran an online search for www.abcnew.com as shown in the image but found nothing. A Google Reverse Image Search on the image revealed no related photo or related content, suggesting that it may be a unique photo that has not existed prior to the claim being made.

Also, the image with the circulating text seems to be from a newspaper with the name “www.abcnew.com” as seen in the image.

Our search reveals that no newspaper exists by this name in Ghana.

We, however, found abcnewsgh.com which also carried the same story on their website on their Facebook page. Although the portal did not use the same image as seen in the Facebook post, it carried the exact same text as seen in the photo.

Dubawa tried contacting abcnewsgh.com to clarify the source of the claim but have been unable to reach the organisation. 

Additionally,  we watched available videos of John Mahama’s recent Volta regional tours on Woezor TV, the NDC and John Mahama Facebook pages but could not find any evidence to support the claim.

Considering who Mahama is, one would expect that such a claim, if made by him especially a few months before a major election, will be widely reported in mainstream media. However, an online search with keywords and the quote attributed to the former president all led to portals which appeared to have copied their stories from one source. No reputable mainstream media has published the said claim.

‘We lie during campaign’ – a confession by John Mahama? 

Further online search into statements suggesting that John Mahama made such a claim led to the discovery of an article posted on modernghana. The article contained a video in which the former president in what seems to be his 2016 campaign tour, evidenced by the “Changing Lives, Transforming Ghana” backdrop, made some statements about politicians mixing truths and lies in the bid to win over voters. 

The video linked to the story has been posted on Youtube with the caption, “President Mahama accepts and tells lies”. The former president could be heard making the claims transcribed below:

Mahama: A lot of times, when it gets to election time, every political party begins to hustle and so whatever you will say to get people’s hearts to turn towards you, is what you say. And so if it’s a lie, you include it, if it’s the truth, you include it. We jumble it all together. The truth is there but we won’t say it but then we will mix it with lies.

Dubawa found a lengthier version of the video, providing a clearer context of what the former president said during a mini-rally at Kade in the Eastern Region in 2016.

Transcript: 0:48 – 3:37

Mahama: “Governance is not easy. It is something that demands patience. It demands wisdom, experience and strength. A lot of times, when someone is doing something, and someone is standing by, if you listen to the bystander speak, you would think the person standing by is capable of doing the work better than the person who is actually doing the work. That is why the white man said, “it is easier said than done.” If you go to a stadium, you will think that the spectators can play better than Adre Ayew and Asamoah Gyan because you will hear them say, they should have played it like this. If it was me, I would play it like this. And so as for talk, it’s cheap. Those of us doing the work, what is important is that we be focused and just continue to do the work the people of Ghana voted us to do. Recently, our brothers said that the NHIS has run down. So what we are saying is that, if NHIS is run down, why is it that you the NPP are making NHIS cards for your people? If the work is run down, then what is the use of the card? Why are you making these NHIS cards for your people at no cost? But it is run down, so stop giving out the cards then. What has happened is that the NHIS has expanded. When we started in 2005, by 2008, the people who went to the hospital were only 9 million. Last year in 2015, the people who went to the hospital were 29 million. A lot of times, when it gets to election time, every political party begins to hustle and so whatever you will say to get people’s hearts to turn towards you, is what you say. And so if it’s a lie, you include it, if it’s the truth, you include it. We jumble it all together. The truth is there but we won’t say it but then we will mix it with lies. As for us, we know that God who is above is the one who knows what is true and what is a lie,” John Mahama said.

In the transcript, Mahama suggests during a 2016 campaign tour, that a bid to win over electorates during elections, some politicians tell lies, some truths and half-truths. 

Roselena Ahiable is a Senior Researcher with Dubawa Ghana. Roselena has years of demonstrated work experience in advertising, sales and marketing, having worked with some of the leading brands in Ghana. She has completed a Master of Philosophy programme in Communication Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon, with specialisation in Public Relations and Advertising. She has also received advanced training in print and broadcast journalism. Roselena also holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Theatre Arts from the University of Ghana. As a trained journalist with interest in research, Roselena provides the team insight in news and media trend analysis.

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