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Opinions of Monday, 15 May 2017

Columnist: Yusef Gariba

Detention of Aisha Huang; A case of rule of law or hypocrisy

I have always maintained from day one that, Government's approach to this whole menace of galamsey was dead on arrival. To me, it is a lazy man’s approach and very discriminatory in outlook. The only tangible solution to the problem of galamsey is the complete nationalization of mining industry in Ghana

But before I proceed, let me make it clear that I do not in anyway, support the plunder of our mineral resources and the destruction of our water bodies by these Chinese nationals.

It is noteworthy, the damage Chinese machinery is causing to our rivers but due to Chinese machinery, galamsey has been diversified and so a lot of jobless youth have gained employment in this sector. Massive employment has been achieved out the conflict of Chinese galamsey

Galamsey employs way more people than the big multinational mining corporations. These corporations put thousands of their employees out of work every 364 days.

Asia Huang appears demonic, thanks to the pseudo-censored Ghanaian media. Her crime was just to have connections with top government officials. Do we really know how our government cut deals with the multinational mining corporations?

For example, Gold Fields was able to get ratification from the parliament of Ghana after the concessionary deal had been cut from the above with the president, within 24 hours. This procedure normally should have taken the parliament of Ghana weeks, if due diligence was to be employed to make sure the interest of Ghana is protected.

Judging from the volume of the documents that our parliamentarians were handed, one can assume that our lawmakers did not even bother to go through the document to know what it entailed, if it was done within a mere 24 hours. They just appended their signatures to ratify it without analyzing the substance.

From the above, one obvious thing is that the management of Gold Fields must have had a great deal of strong and better connection to powerful government officials than Asia Huang to be able to put the integrity of parliament in jeopardy.

The arrest and detention of Asia Huang may seem as rule of law because foreign nationals are not allowed by law to engage in small scale mining in Ghana, the rationale behind this is understood, but what kind of law, in one vein does not allow Chinese to do galamsey whiles in another vein allow multinational mining corporations to exploit a country’s natural resources, make huge profit and then pay crumbs to the nation in taxes. This is what I am flabbergasted at. There are laws that is always superior to the law of Government and those are the laws of conscience. Anyone with conscience should condemn this.

Today, Gold Fields owns more than 90% interest in all the goldmines they operate in Ghana. The same is true for Anglo Gold Ashanti and other multinational gold corporations operating in Ghana. Isn’t this horrifying than Asia Huang’s sex tapes?

Asia Huang is reported to have made $1.5million from galamsey. This is a paltry sum compared to what Ghana loses from the presence and operations of these western mining giants- They make billions of dollars but we don’t feel the impact of this money because it always gets siphoned out of the country.

Since the justification for government’s crackdown of galamsey activities is hinged, not on revenue loss but rather environmental protection, my only concern is that, if the government has been so courageous to cracking the whip on the Chinese, by arresting their kingpin Asia Huang, it should also do well to round up the CEOs of the multinational corporations, because they are also destroying the environment equally, if not more.

First, nobody can discount the enormous damage that is being done to our fertile agricultural lands by these mining giants. They make big pits to extract gold ore but when they are done; they never fill it to close them. It is never news to talk about people who die in these abandoned pits.

When rain falls, water fills these pits and become breeding grounds for mosquito. Mind you, these things happen in communities that have no access to social amenities like hospitals, partly because these mining giants seldom honour their corporate social responsibility. When Ghana was once pronounced one of the countries with the highest prevalence of malaria, our leaders were looking at each other in amusement when the cause stared at them right in the face.

Secondly, the activities of these mining giants have introduced poisonous chemicals into our food chain by way of the contamination of the lands in our food basket regions. This goes to make our people prone to the development of cancer.

So if the galamsey crackdown is all about environmental protection, then the primary target should be the multinational corporations and not the Chinese and I repeat, not the Chinese.

If our government does not arrest the CEOs, and bring them to book, the implication is that it is bad to drink polluted water but okay to eat poisoned foods.

We hung the small thieves but allow the big ones to go scot free to enjoy the booty they have stolen.

It is hypocrisy of the greatest height to keep Asia Huang in detention; she has to be released with immediate effect.

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