No elders in this House?

BY: Joe Frazier
The leader of the Delta Force – Kwadwo Fosu Bamba
The leader of the Delta Force – Kwadwo Fosu Bamba

Last week, I made very strong comments in my article titled, “Who is running the show here?” Those points expressed in part society’s disgust at the lawlessness with which members of a particular vigilante group had been conducting themselves since the New Patriotic Party (NPP) won power late last year.

Many other well-meaning Ghanaians have also spoken in condemnation and swiftly, His Excellency the President has given his firm word of dealing with this group. Consequently, no more acts of public nuisance have been reported about them.

 One wished that the same could be said about illegal mining which also received very strong condemnation. Again, Mr President, through his Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, has been mapping out a definite strategy of combat. The miners do not seem deterred, however, and are daring the government with impudent posts on social media platforms.

It is heartening to note that the Guild of Editors has also joined the fray against the galamseyers. However, the question is what they are going to do differently from all strategies which have been attempted since the menace reared its head in the early 1970s. Is it going to be the usual hooting without mentioning the names or causing the chieftains of the business to be prosecuted? It would be of no use rattling prodigious statistics of the degradation or showing pictures of the harm caused to land, rivers and human health.

The guild must constitute itself into a force of public-spirited civil advocates willing to take on unrelenting legal battles in court. They are eminently qualified and should be well-resourced for this crusade. It is regrettable that apart from some sleuthing by Anas Aremeyaw Anas, all the documentaries on illegal mining in Ghana are reluctant to mention names. The Guild of Editors should be bold to address this timidity. It is not enough to say that chiefs, politicians and business tycoons are involved in galamsey. Do they not have names and other identities?

But what is gold? It is bizarre when one considers that unlike copper, aluminium and uranium, or diamond, iron and other minerals, gold has very little utility value. It is only used for vanity to adorn bodies and as a support for currencies. Why men should be prepared to destroy nature in pursuit of this metal shows the frivolous character of homo sapiens. What happens if the whole world should decide to ban gold in all forms as has been done to the trade in elephant tusk and the rhinoceros horn? An ethical movement in that direction is long overdue. It may affect a substantial revenue stream of Ghana, but what does it profit us as a nation if we extract all the gold and kill all nature in one generation?

My beef this week, indicated in today’s headline, “No elders in this House?”, is the near brawl reported in Parliament between some members of the Majority and the Minority of the Appointments Committee of Parliament (ACP) over the investigative report into a bribery allegation levelled against a nominee for vetting. Muscles were reportedly flexed and unparliamentary language used. Some video footage of the incident show crude hand gestures and individuals being restrained. One could not help but conclude that the atmosphere was certainly indecorous as some harsh things might have been said. Given that the subject of bribery in Parliament is vexatious, one may still ask why the discussion was allowed to degenerate to the point shown in the video.

Admittedly, “agro” in Parliament is not new. Media reports abound with instances of fisticuffs, hurling of chairs and other objects in Parliaments. However, these altercations occur in the nations of Parliaments of a certain colouration. Must we also follow such comic reliefs in our august House? In Ghana, any passer-by who chances upon a fight in a house is bound to ask, “Are there no elders in this house?”

The question could be interpreted to have one or more meanings. The stranger may simply be asking if there is no authority to enforce peace in that house. Or, it may mean that the children in that house have not undergone “ntetee pa”, and my Anlo people would say, “This house is full of “dzimakplaviwo”. This, unfortunately, is not the type of deprecating epithet which must be thrown at our members of Parliament. Nevertheless, the whole incident begs the question, “Where was the House leadership when the situation was simmering up?”