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Opinions of Sunday, 3 December 2017

Columnist: Cameron Duodu

Who said Ghanaians are 'fools'?

The campaign against galamsey is still ongoing The campaign against galamsey is still ongoing

THERE ARE certain ideas that cannot be conveyed eloquently enough unless one resorts to one's own native language.

Thus, whilst trying to alert his fellow countrymen to the proliferation of false rumours about himself and his Government in the Ghana of his time, our first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, inserted the earthy Ga term, “aker....aker” (literally, “they say.... they say”) into his English text. The term went “viral”.

The Hon. Joseph Osei-Owusu, MP for Bekwai and First Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, has just scored a similar goal for the term “yemmo won tuo” [let's shoot them!] in his native Twi language. In an interview on the pestilence Ghana is currently inflicting upon itself – galamsey

Hon Osei-Owusu expressed, in pithy language, the exasperation that fills the heart and mind of many a Ghanaian patriot when he or she sets eyes on the devastation that galamsey has wrought, and continues to wreak, upon our landscape, our rivers and streams and our food and cocoa farms.

He said: (I paraphrase)

The most severe punishment should be visited upon these people who are destroying our rivers and streams, particularly, the Chinese. For which Ghanaian could go to China and do anything of this sort?

We've been borrowing money to try and clean up some of the rivers. Yet, when the water clears up a bit and you come back, you see the rivers and streams back to their polluted, muddy self....

The Operation Vanguard people even report that the galamseyers give mobile phones to little children and station them along the roads so that they can send signals to the galamseyers, telling them when the Vanguard soldiers and policemen are passing in their vehicles.

So by the time the Vanguardmen get to the galamsey operational areas, the galamseyers would have vanished. Maybe they are doing all this because they think we are weak-minded. We should shoot them so that they will realise that we are not a weak-minded people. It is just too distressing... There are Ghanaians showing them what time to move stealthily to the selected areas and that sort of thing!



The Hon Osei-Owusu is one of the most literate people in our current Parliament. He also seems to have a sense of mission as an MP. When he lost the primary election of the NPP for his Bekwai Constituency, he unusually contested the seat of MP for the constituency as an independent candidate. He beat the NPP official candidate and won! But he stayed with the NPP.

This is the type of independent-minded legislator that Ghana needs badly. To watch your country going to the dogs and keep quiet about it because one does not want to step on foreign or local toes, is a treasonable act, in the moral sense of the term. I therefore hope that MPs will rally round Mr Osei-Owusu's call for harsher punishments to be imposed on galamsey operators.

Indeed, legislation is urgently needed to make long terms of imprisonment MANDATORY for galamsey operators. This is because the judiciary, aided by the very abysmal performance often put up by our prosecuting authorities, are making a laughing stock of the brave men in uniform who defy tough terrain and personal danger to arrest galamsey operators.

In one instance, a court at Koforidua fined persons arrested for carrying out galamsey operations such paltry sums of money that the total of the fines imposed on them was lesser than the physical cash taken from them at the time of their arrest! So they walked out of court with some “change” to collect from the court authorities, as the “balance” of what the court had been presented with by way of an exhibit!

In fact, the Media Coalition Against Galamsey has also had to file a case in court pointing out that an appeal for a review of the bail conditions imposed on a group of Chinese and Ghanaian galamseyers, should NOT be heard by the court where the appeal was lodged because that court is an inferior one. The adjudication on the appeal should be made by a higher court, the Media Coalition contends. Now, if the Coalition had not raised such an objection,, would the state's legal representatives necessarily have done so themselves? We cannot take it for granted because the precedent set by Mr Martin Amidu (in the Woyome saga) teaches us that state officials can sleep on the job and allow technicalitiesto obstruct the course of true justice.

Meanwhile, some heartening news: AfrobarometerOrg., an NGO that carries out surveys of pubic opinion on issues of contention, has just published the results of a survey in which one of the questions asked was whether the respondents approved or disapproved of galamsey.

• Three-fourths (74%) of Ghanaians said people should not engage in illegal small-scalemining for any reason.• Only one in five respondents (21%), said citizens should be able to make a living through ‘galamsey,’ though it is illegal.

So, if the body calling itself the “Association of Small-scale Miners” (which says it is going to form a “political party” ) thinks that the Ghanaian electorate is stupid enough to back a “party” whose members are ruining its rivers, streams and water-bodies, as well as its food farms and forest reserves, the Association has a new think coming. The Afrobarometer survey shows clearly that the Government has the populace firmly behind it in its determination to fight galamsey. So the Government should boldly tell the Association: “Bring it on!”

The Government, indeed, should use its overwhel ming poplar support to do what concerned people like the Hon. Joseph Osei-Owusu advocate and bring urgent legislation before Parliament, giving full vent to the desire of the majority of the populace to see harsh measures urgently enacted to bring an end to the evil galamsey menace once and for all.

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