The Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE) has taken serious exception to a recent FrontPage Africa newspaper publication and a statement released by the Ministry of Information Culture and Tourism (MICAT).
MOVEE said it should not be taken lightly when the Ministry of Information issues an attack on the leader of a political party based simply on a newspaper report.
In reference to a story in the FrontPage Africa newspaper dated February 20 where Dr. Jones was reported to have said in a speech on Friday, February 13, that “the government has failed,” the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism, in a press release, called Dr. J. Mills Jones “very dishonest.”
At a news conference over the weekend, MOVEE chairman D. Maxwell Kemayah said “Dr. Jones said nothing of the sort,” and referred to the audio recording made during the speech.
“Dr. Jones said when we talk about our country 170 years coming, it is not a criticism to say that we are far behind; we must accept the fact, and if we agree that we are far behind then we have no choice but to move faster. We cannot be satisfied with doing the same old things, moving in baby steps and telling ourselves that we are making progress. Yes, we are making progress, but at the end of the day, we could still find ourselves being further behind because those who are already in front of us are moving faster. It is simple common sense. You all are students; think about it, reason. It is time for change in this country. Once in the life of every nation comes a time for change. The time for change in Liberia has come.”
Kemayah described MICAT’s statement as lack of professionalism that is inexcusable for “being a government institution whose actions reflect not just on its own credibility, but that of the administration it speaks for.”
He said when a Ministry of Information makes pronouncements on the basis of knee-jerk reactions and rushing to judgment without checking the facts, “it speaks of paranoia in the inner sanctum of government.”
“What is of grave concern, even frightening from the perspective of the national body politic, is paranoia in high places of latent instability. We must be careful, as a people, when the government begins to see enemies under every rock and in every corner – even hiding while standing in broad daylight,” he said, adding that MOVEE will not let its leader and standard bearer be vilified as ‘dishonest’ by a collection of people who would find it hard to identify ‘dishonest’ even if it were to stick them in the eye.
Kemayah said it is not about whether or not the government has failed, but falsely putting words in the mouth of an individual, especially the leader and standard bearer of a political party.
He said from the recording of Dr. Jones’ speech, it is evident that he did not make the remarks attributed to him.
He said this is not the first time a reporter of FrontPage Africa newspaper has fabricated words and attributed them to Dr. Jones.
“The first time concerned a speech Dr. Jones made to the Private Schools Teachers Union; in this case, a speech on education was turned into a tirade against the Sirleaf administration. The serious issue about the state of education in the country was given short shrift.
“The second occasion was a speech Dr. Jones made to the students of Cuttington University. The reporter manufactured words to the effect that Dr. Jones had said the Unity Party should be given a third term. The fact was that during the entire speech, Dr. Jones never mentioned the Unity Party. There were also other manufactured sentences, which were never presented as quotes from Dr. Jones. On these two occasions, the leadership of the Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE) complained to the FrontPage Africa newspaper,” he said.
The MOVEE chairman said there was another ‘ridiculous assertion’ made by MICAT that Dr. Jones was criticizing the administration to gain relevance because he wants to be president.
“This is laughable. Dr. Jones, as a political leader and standard bearer of MOVEE, does not need to engage in irrelevance…in order to gain prominence at the expense of the Unity Party or the present administration.
“The performance of Dr. Jones, his vision for Liberia and his unwavering message of hope, and the fact that MOVEE is a grassroots party that preaches economic empowerment, inclusion, and equal justice and denounces tribalism, have all drawn the electorate to Dr. Jones’ candidacy,” he said.