Hypocrisy in our approach to galamsey is costing us dearly

Most astute po­litical observers would agree that it was the term, “Culture of silence” that paved the way to our current demo­cratic political dispensation.

The term was used by Fl.-Lt. Jerry Rawlings on April 6, 1987, to decry the “subjugation” of junior person­nel to the holders of senior appoint­ments that had “reduced the juniors to silence.”

The phenomenon, Rawlings said, was occurring in such institutions as the police service and the armed forces. His statement was seized upon by the late Professor Kwad­wo Adu Boahen, a fierce critic of military rule, who pointed out that it applied to Ghanaian society in gener­al, and not only to a few agencies of Government.

In his J B Danquah Memorial Lectures of 1988, Prof. Adu Boahen told Rawlings that the existence of the “culture of silence” phenom­enon was to be traced back to the brutal way the PNDC — headed by no other person than Rawlings — had instilled fear into the Ghanaian public and forced them to suppress their opinions on matters of national interest, so as not to be informed upon and punished.

The logic of the situation could not be escaped and within five years of Prof. Adu Boahen’s fearless “bell­ing of the cat”, constitutional rule was being re-instituted in Ghana. The beginnings were not perfect, but once the journey had been embarked upon, there was no turning back. And, of course, today, no Ghana­ian citizen, or indeed resident of Ghana, can complain that he or she has been robbed of his/her freedom to say what he nor she likes, about national issues..

But in political affairs, there can be no “benefits” without “costs”, and the restoration of full democratic rights to the Ghanaian populace has met with what might be called “a coarsening” of the political and social space.

In my view, if this coarsening is not condemned and uprooted, it could lead to the return of totali­tarian rule in the nation.

And this is why. It is now generally accepted that we in the tropics will be the principal suffer­ers, if global warming continues in the way it has been going on. We on this part of Planet Earth will suffer prolonged droughts interspersed with unusually heavy floods. ( In the past week, Mozam­bique and Madagascar have expe­rienced floods in which scores of people have lost their lives. There have also been “strange” floods at times in normally arid areas (like Mali, a Sahelian country).

You see, global warming distorts atmospheric phenomena, especial­ly, “seasons” and weather patterns. Cyclones occur without notice. And they just kill and destroy; kill and destroy.

The problems to life caused by climate change can never be fully anticipated. Even if they are ca­pable of being anticipated, there is usually very little that can be done about the effects.

The countries it affects most are usually extremely poor already, whereas combating natural disasters demand a lot of money. Worse, the countries that can provide money for relief in the affected areas are constantly diverting money for military/political usage — which does not help peo­ple who are starving, or who have been reduced to sleeping without cover, in forests and on city streets.

Now, when a country is hit hard by the multifarious haz­ards created by natural causes (such as global warming) it needs to UNITE to fight NA­TURE, or else it will experience man-made cruelties that will make its people suffer all the more.

If because of party- politi­cal divisions, a section of the populace refuses to allow, say, a barrage to be built in an area identified by engineers as needing one to stop flooding, just imagine the social consequences.

Or imagine people telling engi­neers: “We think that road should pass Point “A” and not Point “B” because of the [detested] political stance of Point “A”!

Far-fetched? I don’t think so. Where is the evidence? The evi­dence is before our eyes: just look at the way some Ghanaians do not seem to understand the need for all of us uniting to try and defeat the deadly social canker known as galamsey.

The main consequence of galam­sey — the deliberate ruination of rivers, streams and water-courses — constitutes a mammoth disaster which is a foreboding of what awaits ALL OF US in the near future.

Anyone who uses his or her com­mon sense can see it. It is present in, for instance, the increasing depen­dence of our populace on purchased sachet water and water in plastic bottles. Are these things, whose cost keeps going up, safe enough for us to depend upon them permanently?

We don’t know the true answer! Yet we are allowing galamsey more or less to continue unabated, WITH SECRET POLITICAL PARTY SUPPORT.

The Government’s efforts are not fully succeeding, if at all, because they are being sabotaged by GOVERNMENT AGENTS who profess to believe — quite wrongly — that because galamsey is “the only way” of enabling some people to “earn a living”, it should be allowed to go on.

DO these people approve of kidnapping, although that also enables people “to earn a living”?. Do they approve of rape (although the clothing of rape victims can be sold by people who need to “earn a living”.?)

Armed robbery, and even “white collar crimes” are con­demned by these same people. Yet they condone the operations of galamseyers, using the empty eco­nomic argument that people “need to earn a living”.

Every now and then, we read on the Internet or other media QUOTE:

“A [stated number] of illegal miners [were] arrested by [name of arresting law enforcement agency] personnel in [name of village or town]. The suspects, [named] together with [number of] excavators that were found at the site, have been handed over to …. (Government body named)…..Two pump-action rifles, a side-arm, [and] live cartridges [ammuni­tion]… are currently being held in evidence, pending investigation…. UNQUOTE

So hypocritical have some Government officials been over this issue of galamsey that one foreign envoy (whose country has been linked to the phenomenon) was provoked into pointing out that: “To end illegal mining ac­tivities in Ghana, Ghanaians must first stop aiding foreigners… [who are] involved in galamsey. Foreign nationals engaged in galamsey in Ghana are undoubtedly being as­sisted by Ghanaians to perpetuate the crime…

“We don’t know where your gold is. We don’t issue visas too for our people coming to Ghana. Ghanaians issue the visas. Ghana­ians aid the foreigners to go where they can find your gold. Why are [foreigners] not doing illegal gold mining in South Africa, where there is also a lot of gold? [It’s] because foreigners cannot do that there… The locals don’t support such illegal

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