Dr. Bawumia, Please Excavators Do Not Vote!

Feature Article Dr. Bawumia, Please Excavators Do Not Vote!

Joy News reports that Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has told an Easter crowd in Kwahu that if he is elected as President, his administration will “not burn excavators” seized from galamsey operators.

That is an unfortunate position for the current Vice President to take. It is, in fact, an unnecessary announcement, since the Government of which he is a member, stopped burning excavators quite a long time ago.

Nevertheless, the statement, although obviously made to seek support in a period on the hustings, is an important one, if it's only because it demonstrates “political body language”, that is alarming.

First, if the Vice President holds such a position, how has he expressed it under Nana Akufo-Addo's tenure? Has he done the honourable thing and told the President that he does not agree with the President's Ashanti-galamsey policy, which gave rise to the burning of excavators? Or has he been a “Nicodemus” in Jubilee House, secretly countermanding antigalamsey measures with which he disagrees?

You see, the burning of excavators, which was a principal tool of the anti-galamsey campaign when it was at its best, was opposed by many people. I support Occupy Ghana's objectives in many respects, but I strongly criticised the organisation when it came out to say that the seizure of excavators must be subjected to the rigours of the rule of law, i.e, applications must be made to the law courts to authorise their seizure and the method of their being disposed of.

My argument was this: using excavators in rivers and waterbodies is one of the most brutal acts that can be inflicted on the sources of drinking water of all our people. The people who use excavators to dredge the water sources for sand and stones that are supposed to contain gold dust are aware of that, but their lust for gold has made them insensitive to the physical harm they cause to our people's health when they assault the water sources in such a ruthless manner.

For (I argued) it is through water polluted by their methods that mercury-caused diseases, as well as cholera, bilharzia, and E. coli (for example) infect the people who are forced to drink polluted water. Not everyone (I reminded Occupy Ghana) has enough resources to buy sachet or bottled water to drink. Even if they can afford to buy refined water to drink, what about the water they need for cooking, for washing their bodies, for washing their clothing, and for cooking the food they eat? (I asked).

I pointed out that depending on legal processes to stop excavators being taken into water bodies was NOT PRACTICAL in real life. This is because our system of policing and punishing crime is so ridden with corruption that even when excavators are seized and taken to police stations, they VANISH before the law can deal with the owners!

I gave instances of situations when Task Force members have seized excavators, removed vital parts from them to disable them, only to come back and find that the owners had anticipated such disabling of excavators and bought spare parts to replace any that would have been removed! I also pointed out that the mere fact that the owners had been able to drive excavators past many police barriers before arriving at their final destinations indicated that our law enforcement system was unable or unwilling to enforce the Government's edicts banning excavators from being taken to the proximity of watersources. Did Occupy Ghana want our law enforcement agencies to sabotage the laws they are supposed to enforce? (I further asked). Wasn't that the beginning of anarchy? I don't know whether Dr. Bawumia followed my debate with Occupy Ghana, but I assure him that he won't be happy heading a Government in a country in which the wealthy and powerful people think that Government laws are made to be defied.

That happened to the USA in the “prohibition era”, and American society suffered the consequences for scores of years. It happened in Italy in the MAFIA days, and so powerful and ruthless did Italian law-breakers become that life became unbearable for many Italians. For if people can pick and choose which laws to obey, then society as a whole is at great risk.

We have seen galamseyers opening fire with guns against those who try to obstruct their operations; we have seen TV crews physically attacked for filming the devastation they cause to our water bodies and forest reserves.

We hear frequently about children and elderly people falling into the water-filled craters which the galamseyers leave behind when they aban- don pits from which they have dug gold.

Galamsey is evil and constitutes an existential threat to Ghanaians yet unborn. Please don't give comfort to those who indulge in it – with words or action.