As National Democratic Congress chiefs scrambled to revive a clip claiming to show President Akufo-Addo accepting inducements, Asaaseradio.com has spoken exclusively with the woman who appears in the recording and whose gift to Akufo-Addo’s 2016 campaign is at the centre of fake news circulated on social media.
The woman, Hajia Fawzia Karim, confirmed to Asaase Radio that she appears in both the undoctored footage, which we published exclusively on Monday 30 November, and the discredited clip.
She confirmed that the doctored footage has been manipulated. The exchange was legitimate, she said; no favours were sought in return. She was excited to meet Candidate Akufo-Addo who she did not know from before.
And she expressed her disgust with the way the recording, which she did not know was being made, has been twisted to make it look as if she offered Akufo-Addo a bribe after he became president.
Watch highlights below of Asaase Radio’s interview with Hajia Fawzia.
Cut up and twisted
Hajia Fawzia is a businesswoman who has supported the NPP for nearly 20 years.
In October 2016, as the then Candidate Akufo-Addo prepared to make his third run for the presidency, she approached Ama Busia, a member of the New Patriotic Party’s Council of Elders, to donate promotional T-shirts to the NPP.
Hajia Fawzia could not remember the date when she made the donation, but she confirmed that the meeting took place in 2016, in the lead-up to that year’s landslide election victory by Nana Akufo-Addo and the NPP.
Although in some discomfort after surgery, she made the effort to speak to Asaase Radio’s correspondent.
She described how she donated the 1,000 T-shirts and GHC40,000 in cash in 2016, purely out of commitment to the party.
The events had nothing to do with her husband, Alhaji Abass Awolu, the director of the Department of Urban Roads, she said.
Speaking to Asaase Radio’s Nana Yaa Mensah, Hajia Fawzia described her distress at the turn of events and condemned the attempt to twist a goodwill gesture for political ends.
And Ama Busia recalled Hajia Fawzia seeking her help to make the donation.
“They brought the T-shirts and they said they wanted to give them to Nana for his 2016 campaign,” she told Asaaseradio.com. “They wanted me to take them to Nana but I wasn’t too well, so I piled them on the verandah.
“Then I asked Dr Adjei Barwuah [Ghana’s ambassador to Japan under President John Kufuor] to take them to Nana and that’s exactly what he did,” she said. “I think it was either first week in October 2016 or the last week in September.”
The undoctored recording shows how Hajia Fawzia, in the company of Dr Adjei Barwuah, presented a sample of the T-shirts and GHC40,000 to Akufo-Addo during a private visit to his office at home in Nima, Accra, in 2016.
The doctored four-year-old footage, cut up and twisted to produce a fake news “bombshell” for release just before this year’s general election, shows the same woman visiting Akufo-Addo at his home in Accra.
Parts of the original conversation have a voiceover, crudely inserted. The tone of the faked voice is noticeably different from the one in the original recording.
She hands over a brown envelope containing what the overlaid voice describes as $40,000. The original recording shows that the sum donated was GHC40,000 and that the events shown took place in 2016.
Flurry of fake news
The fake news recording figured heavily in a press conference called today (2 December) by NDC propaganda chiefs as they attempted to turn the 2020 general election in their favour.
The NDC’s communications officer, Sammy Gyamfi, and former propaganda chief Fiifi Kwetey, the outgoing MP for Ketu South, took turns to claim that they had proof that Akufo-Addo accepted a bribe from Hajia Fawzia in 2017, after he became president.
Asaase Radio’s interview with the woman at the centre of the storm suggests that the main opposition party has been deceived by a fake, or had a hand in its making.
The Minister of Information warned on Sunday that the week before Election 2020 would see a tide of fake news and distortions of political messages.