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Opinions of Monday, 13 May 2013

Columnist: Baafi, Alex Bossman

Let Us Pour Contempt on Chinese Illegal Miners’ ‘Invasion’

By Alex Bossman Baafi

This article is no way intended to discount the relationship that is subsisting between this country and our Chinese development partners. It is also not meant to rubbish the important role the Chinese business community plays in the development of our country. We will continue to respect all foreign nationals who lawfully engage their businesses in the country as is done anywhere in the World.

I am highly disappointed by the failure of our State Institutions including the Immigration Service, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Minerals Commission, Forestry Commission and the Government to put the security and economic well-being of our citizens above the interest of certain Chinese who had come to the country purposely to engage in illegal mining popularly known as Galamsey. Last Friday May10, 2013 I read in the Newspapers that the Obuasi Divisional Command had arrested two Chinese nationals for allegedly killing two Ghanaians after opening fire on ten small-scale miners at Mamiriwa near Obuasi. According to the story, the two people were shot dead during their confrontation with the illegal Chinese miners who had trespassed on their concession. They also succeeded inflicting bullet wounds on others. How these Chinese managed to acquire a vast track of land in the hinterland to begin their destructive illegal activities is what is beating the imagination of the good people of our country.

I know our Minerals and Mining Act promulgated in 2006 (Act 703) forbids foreigners from engaging in small-scale mining in the country. Specifically, Section 83(a) of the Act stipulates ‘A license for small-scale mining operations shall not be granted to a person unless that person is a citizen of Ghana’.

In the face of the law, we have failed as a nation to take our destiny into our own hands. We have more often than not relied heavily of foreigners to determine our future and in the process; these foreigners take our people for a ride. Most of these foreigners invade, encroach and destroy our farmland and water bodies because the institutions and government of this country are weak. Remember the Fulani menace that has become albatross on our necks for example. When are we going to be serious as a nation? Our citizens have become slaves on our own land of our births.

Sadly, our institutions including chieftaincy and the government have failed to control home security issues. Certain chiefs in our hinterland sell vast tracks of land to these foreigners for what they will eat today and die tomorrow, thereby denying their subjects and the future generation of their birthrights. As result of our institutional weaknesses, coupled with irresponsible attitudes of certain chiefs, these foreigners, especially, the Chinese and the Fulanis have become wealthier and powerful here in our country and are engaging in illegal activities with impunity. The Chinese in particular have also taken over the retail businesses including petty trading also reserved for the ordinary poor people on the street.

For me, there are three (3) negative aspects of these foreigners invading our country.

First, the arrival of these Chinese and Fulanis had brought economic dislocation. Our retail businesses have been disrupted locally and regionally. Whilst the Chinese in retail businesses have their trade booming, those of our people are collapsing. This disruption has hit hard the poorer classes in our society more than never before. It has therefore led to increase in joblessness and hence poverty. The Fulani and their cattle have succeeded to destroy farmland of our farmers, killing, maiming and raping women in the process with no hope coming from anywhere.

Second, though we have our independence, there is still a sense of economic and political dependence on foreign countries for our livelihood. For example, the government largely has made it a point that without the support of the Chinese $3billion loan, the future in terms of infrastructural development of this country is hopelessly uncertain. We have perhaps pledged our loyalty to China and therefore their nationals then become untouchables in our country no matter what they do. When are we going to sit up?

Third, as our authorities have perhaps sold our destiny to the Chinese, it has culminated in inevitable neo-colonial exploitation of our resources. Yes, China, bargaining from a position of strength requires a certain percentage of our minerals resources including Gold and Oil to siphone off and sends to their country. Otherwise, what a hell are they here to engage in illegal galamsey at all cost?

The lack of political commitment to deal swiftly with these Chinese and Fulani menace had created a vacuum in the heart of the good people of this country. Powerful and serious-minded government with strong institutions can only fill that vacuum. The reversal of the current socio-economic and political realities that are threatening the very existence of the masses can be realized with change for a political force that will put the interest of our nation and its people first. In my opinion, the good people of our country must pour contempt on the invasion of our country by foreign illegal miners irrespective of where they bloody come from.

Email: abkbossman@yahoo.co.uk