The world, they say, does not end with a bang. Strife, I dare say, too does not start with a bang. It builds its momentum with an accumulation of little incidents here and there, finally leading to an explosion.
Surveying our national scene this week and judging from what is being reported in the local media, one sees the gestation, eventual growth and devastation from two major man-made disasters.
The number one strife is the mindless destruction of water bodies in our search for precious minerals which has reached a tipping point. It is an activity that started in the early 1970s and has reached a crescendo. Many people have spoken against it and in the past, a security task force was formed to flush out what we chose to call illegal miners. That task force was disbanded because influential voices in our society had condemned its activity not for any legal reasons. New Ministers of Land and Mineral Resources on assumption of that position made courageous noises but, as always, the humanitarian dictum that “the people must eat” always prevails.
Thus laws and regulations against illegal mining and pollution of water bodies have largely gone unforced.
Worse, the chiefs who are the custodians of the land are said to be deeply involved in the activity, making enforcement impracticable. A trip from Tarkwa through Bogoso to Obuasi illustrates this point. A prominent chief has his palace located on a hill surrounded by two greatly devastated fields of stripped and dug up lands. The chief could not claim to be unaware of the activity of the miners?
Politicians are also said to be involved in this destructive activity. It is worthwhile noting that all the constituencies where this land degradation is taking place have elected NPP Members of Parliament some of whom are said to be protesting against Mr Peter Amewu’s order for illegal mining to cease in three weeks. It is a shame that some MPs of the governing party have no qualms defending illegality in their constituencies. How
can this government stop galamsey? Like the mafia, there seems to exist some real chieftains protecting this business.
One major cause of degradation and pollution of our rivers is the technology employed in prospecting for the precious minerals. The prospectors dam or divert rivers, dig the soil and wash it with water to precipitate the grains. That is how the flow of the rivers are stemmed, the colour looks muddy and because the rivers’ vegetative covers are stripped off, evaporation is accelerated and the rivers dry off. This process is the same for both small-scale legal mining and illegal mining. Therefore, if by categorisation, we tend to exonerate “the small-scale legal” miners then we are really missing the chunk of the problem.
Many of the small-scale miners employ huge excavators and conveyors and cause more degradation than the poor prospector whose only tools are the pick axe, shovel and pan. Any ban on mining should cover both small-scale and the galamsey prospectors.
The other strife of major concern is the emergence of vigilante groups that are affiliated to the major political parties. Their activities of molestation of opponents, internecine
fights and general disregard for laws and regulations are brazen during and after elections. For the past three months, the activities of one such group fancifully named Delta Force have made the headlines. They are affiliated to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and are in fact, the de facto security force of the ruling party.
The Delta Force are well-trained and cannot be described as a rabid rag-tag vigilante group. Presumably, they take orders from the NPP and are resourced by that party. Since the NPP won the election late last year, this group has constituted the law unto themselves.
They have seized public properties and now feel they must approve appointments made by the President! Recently, a political analyst with NPP sympathies has described their actions as characteristic of a failed state. This may be overstating the facts but that is exactly how Ghana would become if other political parties also empower their vigilante groups to act nonchalantly.
It has been reported that the President, Nana Akufo –Addo has summoned party gurus to the Flagstaff House for a dressing –down on the activities of Delta Force. It has also been reported that the leader of the group has been arrested for prosecution. But subtle attempts by some spokespersons of the NPP on radio and TV to disown Delta Force’s affiliation with their party is dishonesty. No amount of denials can absolve them of collusion. Delta Force and any other group with such conduct must be disbanded. To this, My blog says kudos to Mr President. But we need to see strong action not hand taps.