I do not blame the people who think that it is “illegal” for the Government to order soldiers engaged in “Operation Halt”, to burn the excavators, bulldozers and other equipment seized at galamsey sites.
Politics has been defined as “the art of the possible”, and past Governments, as well as the present one, have been struggling to balance what they find to be a delicate problem concerning the widespread operation of galamsey, with the need not to alienate their supporters.
The NPP Government, for instance, has been trying to entice “small-scale miners” to adopt safe, scientifically-approved mining methods, without success. In 2018, it actually paid miners to go for short-term educational courses, at the University of University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), Tarkwa.
Not only that – the NPP Government embarked on the granting of concessions to miners who had done the Tarkwa course, in the hope that they would put their newly-acquired knowledge to good use.
But the attraction of quick money brought the attempt to an ignoble end. For mainly economic reasons, these “new-type” of bona fideminers were induced to sell their certificates and concession licences to financiers, who could use excavators and bulldozers quickly to do the heavy work involved in winning gold.
Thus, instead of the Government’s assistance to small-scale miners helping to stop galamsey, it rather enhanced it. The situation became so murky, in fact, that when a galamseyer was caught by, say, Operation Vanguard personnel, he proffered a “licence” at them! In doing that, the galamseyer would depend on the almost certain fact that the security personnel would not be able to verify his claims.
Now, in murky situations, bribery cuts the Gordian knot. Failing that, the arresting officials would be put into contact with “influential Party officials”. And the half-truth would emerge that the arrested person was “working with” the Government. Under such auspices, “prospecting” licences were transformed – again, through “palm-greasing” – into active mining licences.
The bizarre result has been that since the Government’s elaborately structured “OPERATION GALAMSTOP” was launched in August 2018, more rivers, streams and water-bodies, a AS WELL AS FOOD AND COCOA FARMLANDS – have been devastated by the galamseyers than ever before.
But despite the realities on the ground, the Government thought, once again, that words (in the form of laws) could stem the tide of the destruction. So, in 2019, it announced, with great fanfare, that it had enacted an Act under which galamseyers and their collaborators would face long terms of imprisonment, plus other severe penalties, when caught.
But the Government had, once again, deceived itself. The mere announcement of the new severe punishments has not deterred the galamseyers from carrying on with the destruction of our
invaluable water sources and farmlands. Instead of prosecuting galamseyers in the full glare of media coverage, “pour encourager les autres” (“deter others”, as the French put it) the Government has not prosecuted a single person successfully under the new law!
In April 2021, the Government’s patience understandably snapped. And it ordered armed forces personnel to find and burn all excavators and bulldozers found at galamsey sites, 100 metres from water-bodies and forest reserves. But, unfortunately, the Government did not include food and cocoa farmlands. So, once again, the galamseyers have been given a sort of escape route. They are continuing their destruction, but claim that it isnot being done within the limits set by the Government. The answer is for the Government to BAN GALAMSEY EVERYWHERE.
Will it? Hmmm! Even with its half-measures, the Government is facing pressure from organisation like OccupyGhana, that are arguing, on behalf of the galamseyers, that it is “illegal” for the Government to order that excavators and bulldozers seized at galamsey sites, should be burnt where they were found. ,
This reaction of the pressure groups is strange. Are they seriously suggesting that the elected Government of Ghana has no power to take action, for the public good, without being beholden to a judicial service that is both slow and may be, as a neutral entity, unconcerned with what the Government considers to be “in the public interest”?
I would ask the lawyers making noise about the burning of the galamseyers’ excavators to recall what they know of the principles of “jurisprudence” and answer this question: “Suppose the Government were to learn that terrorists were driving a vehicle, loaded with explosives, towards an electricity sub-station or a water-purifying plant (the destruction of which would dispossess a huge number of people of two of the necessities of life – water and electricity ) – would the Government have to first go to court to get an order, before it could command its armed forces to use whatever means were available, to prevent the attack on those public utility installations?”
Is it not a fact that even humans can become “collateral damage” during military action to ensure public safety?
Frankly, the evidence on the ground clearly demonstrates that if the Government does not pursue coercive action, but relies on what might be termed “legalities” to stop galamsey, it will wake up to find that (1) our water-sources are gone; (2) food farms have become inaccessibly to farmers, and (3) that our forest reserves, which are so necessary for preventing our country from becoming a desert in the age of climate change, have also vanished.
Under these circumstances, it behoves every political party and every intellectually potent organisation, to rally behind the Government to end the life-threatening emergency. Fortunately, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, is not inclined to allow himself to be intimidated to resort to methods that will only ensure that the stable doors are bolted AFTER the horses have fled.
Our legal system, after all, is based on English law, which is based on Roman law, which is based on Greek law. At each stage, the migrated law was MODIFIED to take account of the peculiar circumstances of the country that was importing the laws.
All those laws are supposed to provide justice to the populace. But they did not prevent the British, for instance, from unilaterally and arbitrarily imposing the payment of “tributes” on Asante in the 19th century, did they?
In fact, one treaty imposed a tribute amounting to 50,000 ounces of gold on Asante! Just imagine that! With gold now selling at nearly $2,000 per ounce that’s worth US$100 million! And all the Asantes had done was to defend their territory against British incursion.
To use legal instruments imported from Britain to prevent us from protecting our water sources and food-growing and cocoa farmlands, is, therefore, to exhibit utter obtuseness of mind. I am afraid that those who want us to do that, will live and die in dishonour. They should remember what Mark Anthony thought of those people who were formally addressed as “honourable men” in Rome but whose hands were stained with blood.
Book knowledge, I am afraid, does not provide us with wisdom.
Wisdom helps us to survive our peculiar situation on earth. To allow book knowledge to blind us to this fact will lead us inexorably to – SELF-IMPOSED EXTINCTION, ON OUR GOD-GIVEN LAND!
By CAMERON DUODU
#KNOWLEDGE #WISDOM #CURSE