10.10.2022 Feature Article

Is Ghana a Mad Country or a Country with Mad People?

Is Ghana a Mad Country or a Country with Mad People?
10.10.2022 LISTEN

By Mad Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK
“Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat”.

“Those whom God wishes to destroy, he first deprives of reason, or "Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad".

I am sure many readers will be dismayed, disappointed or even angry with the title of my article and accuse me of being arrogant, disrespectful and insulting to Ghana and Ghanaians and demand that I render an unqualified apology. They may be right but I disagree with them for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I am a Ghanaian and therefore if Ghana and Ghanaians are mad, I am equally insane. Second, any rational observer of what is currently happening in Ghana, will conclude that there is no word to describe it other than madness and for these two reasons alone, I make no apology for the choice of words. You can call a problem or difficulty, a challenge but I wouldn’t.

I have not written and posted article on Modernghana or Ghanaweb since the first week of July 2022 because I have almost given up on Ghana. However, day after day, things seem to go from bad to worse to the point of no return and I can no longer stay silent whilst my motherland is under attack from foreigners aided by politicians, the rich, powerful and the connected. I used to be a very proud Ghanaian but not any longer. I am ashamed of what is being done to Ghana by some Chinese in Ghana.

I watched Newsfile on 9 October 2022 and could not believe what illegal mining has done and is doing to Ghana and Ghanaians. Ghana is now a country without leaders. It’s everyone for himself/herself and God for us all. How could we allow illegality to descend into this level? Even towns and villages are mined to the extent that the residents are unable to enter their own homes.

Cocoa farms, the cash cow of Ghana have been mined and destroyed by foreigners in broad day light. According the video shown on the programme, sometimes cocoa farms are forcibly taken and mined. How could a nation and her citizens allow such insanity by foreigners to prevail, unless we are mad or as the proverb at the beginning says, we have been deprived of reason?

The Chinese who are doing this to Ghana and Ghanaian cannot do same in their own country because they would be executed in China if they did what they are doing in Ghana. How could Ghana and Ghanaian allow foreigners to have more say over our land and minerals resources in Ghana. Is that not insane?

I am not against foreigners in Ghana because I am a foreigner in Europe. I am also not against small scale mining, however, the gospel fact is that, there is nothing small scale in what is happening in Ghana but illegal large scale mining involving the wanton decimation and destruction of land, cash and food crops, rivers and the environment at epic proportions. Yet, Ghanaians have become willing accomplices in the destruction of Ghana and her future by some Chinese citizens. If we are not mad, what are we? Insanity, lunacy, stupidity or what?

Almost all rivers in mining areas in Ghana are polluted with harmful chemicals. The land is contaminated by the same dangerous chemicals used in the illegal mining. Illegal mining is out of control in Ghana but elected and unelected leaders are not only impotent to act but unwilling to act to control and stop it because they are all involved. Indeed, that is how the political elite survive in Ghana through the deliberate abrogation of their duties. Despite countless ministers, MMDCEs, heads of Land Commission, Environmental Agency and others including the Police, Immigration all being paid huge salaries and remuneration, they allow such carnage in Ghana in order to benefit from it.

What is tragic about this epidemic in Ghana is the ostrich mentality by all of us. That is, we seem to be oblivious to the negative impact on Ghana and Ghanaians of the madness to allow some Chinese to enrich themselves in Ghana at whatever cost to us. Very soon if not already our yam, plantain, cocoyam, cassava, maize, vegetables and other food crops grown in those areas will all be contaminated and dangerous to consume. All such agricultural products could be banned from exports because of contamination. In fact, there are reports that the EU plans to ban Ghana’s cocoa due to suspected contamination. Ghanaians are slowly eating dangerous chemicals that will result in deceases, death and women giving birth to babies with abnormalities, etc. The risk of drinking and using river water containing dangerous chemicals is unimaginable. In reality, some parts of Ghana could become a ghost area in decades to come if this madness is allowed to continue.

At same time that we allow and assist the Chinese to destroy our lands, cocoa, farms, river bodies and the environment with pollution and dangerous chemicals, there are reports that China has grown cocoa and will soon export cocoa. In fact, this week, I also saw on social media boxes of what is alleged to be yam from China in a shop in London. I do not know if that is fact but what is certain is that when Ghanaian cocoa and yams are banned from exports, China will take Ghana’s place. Then Ghana will import yam from China. How dump could we be?

Apart from the future health threat to Ghana and Ghanaians, there is also immediate security risk to Ghana from this madness we have lost control of. I saw a video of men with arms fighting the military in an illegal mining area in Ghana. It’s reminiscent of scenes in Liberia and Sierra Leone during their civil war. In the Newsfile video, it was said that the Chinese and Ghanaian illegal miners are armed and that is why they are able to forcibly take over lands and farms including towns and villages to mine. Another sign or warning of a country sleep walking into civil conflict, if this impunity continues.

Another irony of this is that the mineral wealth extracted do not benefit Ghana as a country because they are taken out of the country by the Chinese without the payment of taxes. I do not even believe that Ghanaians who are involved also pay taxes. For example, I once saw the Asante Regional NPP Chairman in a video clip with gold bars at a radio station. How much did he make from the sale of the gold bars and how much tax did he pay to Ghana?

Why this madness in Ghana? There is only one explanation and it’s very simple. That is, law and order or lack of it. I have been preaching about enforcement and compliance of law and order since 2010 to no avail. One thing I have observed living, studying and working in Western Europe is that, the difference between the developed world and the developing countries is the enforcement of law and order without fear or favour. This makes them appear to be better humans than others but that is not true, they are not better humans but better managers of their affairs through effective enforcement and compliance of law and order.

Every society is better off if it’s able to enforce law and order without fear or favour. For example, the last British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson had the belief that he was special and therefore the laws, rules and regulations should not apply to him. So, he broke COVID19 restrictions and was fined for it. He made decisions that by the laws, rules and regulations of the country and his office were wrong. For these reasons, despite his huge parliamentary majority as well as his popularity among his party, MPs and the country, he was removed from office by his own MPs. This is because, no one is above the law. In Ghana, he would have won a second term because he will be above the law.

Sadly, in Ghana, we practise animal farm when it comes to law and order enforcement and compliance. The laws, rules and regulations are not enforced by the authorities, neither are they complied with by the people. When enforced, it is done selectively, so only the poor, weak and vulnerable are at the mercy of the laws, rules and regulations. Until Ghana and Ghanaians act collectively to enforce and comply with the laws, rules and regulations without fear or favour, Ghana is doomed as a nation state and Ghanaians are doomed as a people.

The three arms of government in Ghana are ineffective when it comes to law enforcement and compliance. The Executive is paralysed in enforcing the laws, rule and regulations. In fact, they are first to break the law instead of setting good examples. They are all above the law. The Legislature is no good either. They are only interested in rubberstamping what the Executive takes to them, approving loans and receiving their ex-gratia every four years instead of holding the Executive accountable. The last bastion of accountability and rule of law, the Judiciary is equally defective. Trials go on for years without end and decisions often lack reasoning and transparency. For example, an MP was murdered and a suspect arrested. Yet over five years now the trial is still ongoing. Last week, it was reported that the prosecution failed to turn up in court in another high profile murder trial, yet the judge did not reprimand prosecutors for not turning up. In this day and age, one wonders why state prosecution did not inform the court in advance of the absence so that the hearing could have been postponed? It appears judges are even afraid to criticise the Executive.

Justice delayed is justice denied and justice should not only be done but must also be seen to be done. The Chief Justice advised judges to ignore public sentiments on judicial decisions. He is wrong because when the people believe that the judiciary is not administering justice, some may take the law into their own hands. Instead of the Judiciary supervising the work of the Executive and Legislature with independent judicial decisions, it’s often seen by the public as being on one side, the government of the day. Justice has therefore become, scratch my back and I scratch yours.

Ghanaians are deluded if they believe that there is an ongoing fight against illegal mining. There is nothing like that because illegal mining has not only gone up since the so-called fight was launched but it has gone out of control. What is required is not a fight but a war on illegal mining in Ghana. The president who put his presidency on fighting illegal mining won the 2020 presidential election but the menace has got worst. His own appointees are heavily involved and that is why he pretends not to know what is happening and that is part of the madness.

For the above reasons, I proposed the following actions:

An immediate moratorium or complete ban on small scale mining throughout Ghana for three to six months because what is happening is not small scale mining. Small scale mining should only involve pick axe and shovel, buckets and pans. No heavy equipment whatsoever. A complete ban on the involvement of foreigners in small scale mining throughout Ghana.

All foreigners involved in illegal mining MUST be arrested, prosecuted and deported after serving their sentences. All Ghanaians including state officials such as ministers, MMDCEs, Land Commission officials, the police, military, chiefs, etc who are involved in illegal mining should also be arrested and prosecuted with fear of favour.

A new arrangement for small scale mining which involves land reclamation and mining at specified distances from rivers, farms and human habitation be developed for only Ghanaians. No river bed should be mined and no water from rivers should be used for mining. Instead, miners should pump water from abandoned ponds for mining and properly dispose of any water containing chemicals.

Finally, all laws, rules and regulations on mining and land use in Ghana MUST be strictly enforced without fear of favour. Otherwise, the madness will continue and Ghana as a mad nation state with mad people will be official. If one is not mad at what is happening in Ghana, you should already be in a mental institution.

Mad Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK