Ghanaian Journalists covering the launch of the Ghana-South African Business Chamber at a luncheon were humiliated by the organisers who inexplicably told them they were not welcome.
Ms Felicia Frempong, Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Chamber, in the full glare of other invited guests, asked the dozen or so local journalists who were already seated to go out. Their South African counterparts were not asked to leave. "I do not understand why they have come to take up all the seats we have," Ms Frempong said and turning to a TV reporter, she ordered: "You have to go out or we will throw you out." As if this was not enough, Dr Patrick Phologane, the South African High Commissioner in Ghana, took the microphone and ordered the journalists out before the arrival of President Mbeki, "otherwise the programme will not start". The embarrassed journalists had no choice but to troop out of the hall.
Mr Mike Gizo, Minister of Tourism and Mr Kwesi Ahwoi Chief Executive of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) intervened and appealed to the journalists to give them time to sort things out. This did little to help as they could only get the journalists into the banqueting hall where they stood throughout the two-and-a-half duration of the programme. Most of the journalists expressed disgust about the treatment meted out to them and wondered why the organisers invited the media at all if they knew they were not welcome.
The journalists present were from the Ghana News Agency, Daily Graphic, Radio Ghana, Financial Post, TV3, GTV News, The Independent, Weekly Spectator and the Ghanaian Times.
Meanwhile at the luncheon itself, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa tasked Government, business and labour in Africa to unite to meet the common and daunting challenges of the global market place.This partnership is critical since none of them can succeed by itself, especially on a continent replete with increased poverty, disease and malnutrition, he said at the official launch of the Ghana-South Africa Business Chamber (GSABC) in Accra. He said: "It is not possible for anyone on the continent to survive alone or be an oasis of success." The South African President said co-operation is a necessary condition for the success of GSABC and Ghana-South Africa relations.
President Mbeki urged them to urgently address the issue of encouraging domestic investment in local economies, saying they are key to initiating development. He condemned theft of state funds and property that are later lodged in foreign banks and asked governments to work at discouraging the phenomenon. He cited the case of Nigeria and noted that that country has recovered one billion dollars of looted funds by previous leaders and politicians from foreign banks.
President Mbeki said poverty and diseases such as AIDS and malaria which claim millions of lives each year are challenges that must be fought and won on the continent.
Dr Felix Kwabena Frempong, Chairman of GSABC, said trade and business relations between the two countries are on a steady course. "This is not withstanding the that fact that the balance is tilted toward South Africa, though on an equal term." He said even though the Chamber is young, it will strive to increase business activities between the two countries. "We will establish a web-site where we will provide a database for the business community world-wide and also be a point of networking between business in Ghana and South Africa.
After the business luncheon, President Thabo Mbeki on Thursday spent about 45 minutes at the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, one of Ghana's historical sites, touring the Mausoleum which contains the mortal remains of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's premier President.