Poisoned for Gold! Scorched-earth policy?

As I watched GJA Journalist of the Year 2023 Erastus Asare Donkor’s documentary on galamsey titled, Poisoned for Gold on TV in the third week of November 2023, my mind went back to an earlier documentary of his. 

In the article titled A Journalist’s Crusade in Environmental Sustainability?

 I stated as follows:

“In the last week of August 2023, Joy FM premiered the investigative journalist Erastus Asare Donkor’s latest documentary Forests under siege, showing drone/aerial pictures of the devastation to forests and the environment and water bodies in Apamprama Forest Reserve in the Ashanti Region.

Watching Poisoned for Gold, these questions welled up in my mind.

Why will Ghanaians collude with foreigners to destroy our environment? 

Latex Foam Valentines Day Promo

I asked the question Joy FM’s Raymond Acquah often asks in frustration, “what is wrong with us Ghanaians?”

Are our rulers on a deliberate “scorched-earth policy” against Ghana for reasons best known to them only? 


Scorched-earth policy is a military strategy where a withdrawing/retreating army destroys anything that might be useful to an advancing enemy.

While it is generally carried out in enemy territory, it could in some cases be carried out in own friendly territory.  

In order not to leave anything advantageous to the enemy, a withdrawing army destroys anything in sight.

The aim is to prevent any valuable asset from falling into enemy hands, which could be of advantage to them.

In addition to the destruction of communication equipment, electricity/water installations and general infrastructure, oil wells, as happened to the Kuwaitis in their war with Iraq in 1991, could also be destroyed.

Indeed, in January 1991, while retreating under pressure from the American-led coalition in the Iraq-Kuwait War, the Iraqis set fire to over 600 Kuwaiti oil wells in a “scorched-earth” action. 

While “scorched-earth” may generally be a military action originated at the strategic level as in the Iraqi case, it could also happen in non-war situations as happened in Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso

In mid-November 2022, in a reaction to the nationalisation of mines by the government of Burkina Faso, Canadian mining firm Trevali at Perkoa, Burkina Faso, destroyed vehicles and any equipment they could find, in what could pass for a scorched-earth action, albeit in a non-military situation.

Rather than leave intact any equipment which the Burkinabes could utilise, they destroyed anything/everything in sight.


In recent times, the unbelievable impunity of destruction of lands, the pollution of our surface water bodies (both galamsey-inspired), the denuding of our forest vegetation, the cutting and export of millions of rosewood trees in Ghana, make me wonder if we have not embarked on a deliberate and unconscionable domestic scorched-earth policy against ourselves in support of foreigners!

In scorched-earth policy, the target is the enemy as in the Iraq-Kuwait scenario where the retreating Iraqis destroyed Kuwaiti oil wells.

To a lesser extent, the foreign mine owners, out of frustration may see the government of Burkina Faso as the “enemy” for wising up to exploit their minerals themselves.

However, in the case of the destruction going on in Ghana where Forest Reserves are busily being converted into deserts, and rivers into sewage sludge heavily polluted with mercury and cyanide, I have difficulty understanding what Ghanaians are doing to Ghana, aiding foreigners to destroy Ghana. Ghana Water Company spends heavily treating our almost untreatable water.

Where is the patriotism Osagyefo taught us, as Ephraim Amu composed in our patriotic song Y3n ara y’asaase ni?

The documentary reminded one of the caustic question by the Chinese ambassador on radio/TV in 2019. Responding to questions on Chinese nationals’ involvement in the illegal mining after speaking at a lecture organised by the Confucius Institute at the University of Cape Coast in Daily Graphic of April 8 2019, Chinese Ambassador Mr Shi Ting Wang stated:

“We don’t know where your gold is.

We don’t issue visas too for the Chinese people coming to Ghana.

Ghanaians issue the visas.

Ghanaians aid the Chinese to where they can find your gold.

 Why are Chinese not doing illegal mining in South Africa where there is also a lot of gold?

Because they cannot do that there and the locals don’t support such illegalities.”

He added that the Chinese Embassy was surprised as to how some Chinese arrested for illegal mining were released without any communication with the embassy for their repatriation.

Ambassador Shi advised it was important that Ghanaians must first stop aiding/blaming foreigners in the galamsey business if efforts at fighting the menace are to be successful.

He told Ghanaians to blame ourselves and not his countrymen/women.

Need Ghana be schooled in such a basic existential and commonsensical issue about our own national survival by a Chinese?

Petty galamsey miners who are occasionally arrested do not have the finances to import the expensive equipment-of-mass-destruction used in galamsey!

 Can the authorities swear they have no idea who the rich galamsey sponsors are, such that seized equipment simply disappear?


The scorched-earth direction of corruption, arrogance, destruction, impunity and disrespect must stop if we are to survive as a nation.

While Ivory Coast has recently built a $100 million factory to process all her cocoa, Ghana’s cocoa trees are being destroyed for galamsey. 

Unlike Ghana, Ivory Coast does not import tilapia.

Every district/region grows its own tilapia from their water bodies.

So, tilapia does not cross regional boundaries!

Here, our polluted Pra, Ankobra, Tano and Offin no longer support effective fish-life. 

What lessons can we not learn from Ivory Coast which is still recovering from the effects of a civil war?

Greed is destroying Ghana!

Our internally generated “scorched earth” policy against Ghanaians must stop, or we wipe ourselves off the globe!

Leadership, lead! Fellow Ghanaians, wake up!

The writer is former CEO of African Peace Support Trainers Association, Nairobi, Kenya/Council Chair Family Health University College, Accra.  

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