The best of journalists and newspapers get it wrong sometimes. Very few have not made mistakes if there are such few. There are times when some sources are not reliable. But in this job sources are an inherent part of your work.
In journalism, you take people’s word because you have had cause to rely on them before.
I cite the example where I used something someone I know would not mislead me. It had to do with a tape he said he had at a Bartica local government election rally in 2016 in which a prominent politician is alleged to have made an alarming statement.
I ran with it because my friend said he had the tape. The politician denied it; I hadn’t the tape. An apology was obligatory.
Three different sources informed about the dimensions of an action involving a billboard going up in front of the AFC head office. One is that major AFC players didn’t know, so they wanted to find out what was taking place. It appears that the billboard was a surprise gift.
Secondly, I was told that Ramjattan and Leonard Craig did call to ascertain that was taking place. Thirdly, my last set of sources informed me that AFC activists descended upon the site and were prepared for a confrontation and Minister Patterson was there.
The AFC is refuting that the third dimension which it refers to as an “incident” did occur and wants an apology. An apology is extended.
Leonard Craig who wrote on behalf of the AFC called me; the conversation was friendly, but he told me I got it wrong and I also apologized to him. I am sure readers must be turning over in their minds why since May 2015, with dozens and dozens and dozens of critical columns I have penned on the AFC, there has never been a request for an apology?
In those columns, I made accusations about things done by the AFC and within the AFC. Is it possible that the only time I was wrong or got it wrong was the piece on the billboard, thus the request for an apology? One should never be too big to apologize, so I have no hesitation in offering an apology to the AFC.
A current AFC executive committee member, Marlon Williams, sat down with me on Monday evening to talk about my last Sunday column in which I accused him and fellow executives – Leonard Craig, Trevor Williams and Joel Edmond of not speaking about undemocratic currents in the AFC.
One of the issues cited was the renewed Cummingsburg Accord, which was not presented to the AFC’s executive committee.
Marlon wants me to make a correction which he wants to be in the form of an acknowledgement. He wants his chat with me to be recorded, so here it is. Marlon explains that as General-Secretary of the AFC (which is third in line of authority after leader and chairman) from 2017 to 2019, he openly disagreed with many policies of his government (he used those words).
He named three. 1- He was against VAT on private tuition fees. 2- He was appalled at the sudden destruction of vendors’ structures in Sophia. 3- He rejected the parking meter contract.
He stressed that in all three circumstances the AFC’s leadership knew his attitude and he went so far as to go down to Sophia and denounce the demolition action in front of the media.
Looking back on those days, I accept what Marlon told me, because I was in conversation with him in front of other AFC officials when he took those positions.
I know about those days, and in all honesty I acknowledge his independence of thought. In fact, when the Sophia vendors were forcefully removed, he was so upset, he asked AFC youth activist, Arnold Sukhraj, to call me to ask me to come down to the AFC office.
When I went, he was too distressed to talk. Looking back still further, when Leonard Craig felt that the Office of the Prime Minister was unfair to him in the controversy that surrounded his chairmanship of the Broadcasting Authority, Marlon lent his private business office to Craig to hold his press conference to clarify both his role as chairman and the authority of the Prime Minister.
Our conversation finished without any discussion as to why the AFC executive was not presented with the renewed Cummingsburg Accord for its endorsement.
I did not bring it up, because I sensed that he did not want to talk about it. I have spoken to Leonard and Marlon since the Sunday and Monday columns. We remain friends. Friendship transcends politics. It should.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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