ARE WE JOKERS IN GHANA OR WHAT? By CAMERON DUODU

The question I raise in the above headline is what is called a “rhetorical” question. I know the answer, and yet I am posing the question!

In case you can’t guess my answer, it is this: Yes – Ghana is a huge joke.

Why do I say that? Just listen:

On  July 9, 2017, the elected President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo proclaimed to the world that

he would fight to end galamsey, even if it meant him putting his presidency “on the line”.

On August 1,2017 – less than the weeks after the President had made his determination to fight galamsey known — a Daily Graphic report made it clear that the President had not been talking hot air when he made his pronouncement on galamsey.

Operation Vanguard’ launched to wipe out galamsey” said the report. It went on:

“The government’s resolve to end illegal mining has been given further impetus with the deployment of the first batch of security men to three regions considered to be the most affected areas.

Dubbed “Operation Vanguard”, the 400 security men made up of personnel of the Ghana Armed Forces and the Police Service have been divided into three groups to cover the Ashanti, Eastern and Western regions.

“The teams have been tasked to stay at their assigned regions until all forms of illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey, have been stopped and unauthorised mining pits permanently destroyed. To make their work very efficient, the anti-galamsey task force… trained at the Bundase Training Camp in the Ningo Prampram District in the Greater Accra Region, has been equipped and fully armed. The task force has also been supplied with new patrol vehicles and other logistics to enable members to perform their operations with urgency and speed.

“Addressing members at its launch in Accra, the Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Illegal Mining, Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, said the taskforce was expected to remain in the affected areas until the degraded lands and rivers had been restored and the reforestation [of the affected areas] undertaken.

Thereafter, he said, another team to be made up of personnel of the Ghana Navy and Marine Police, would be deployed to take up the monitoring of the major rivers and water bodies until illegal activities had been completely eradicated.. If anybody thought we were joking, they should think again,” [he stressed].

“I heard some group of people in the Ashanti Region vowing to resist the task force. My only appeal to them is to use the right channel to make known their grievances instead of fighting the task force,” he advised…

“Earlier, the Defence Minister, Mr Dominic Nitiwul, and the Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Obed Akwa, stressed the need for the entire population to allow the joint police and military anti-galamsey task force to work. They warned that it would not go well with any person who would attempt to make the work of the task force difficult “because the nation and the government are behind it.” Present at the ceremony were the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu; the Interior Minister, Mr Ambrose Dery, and the Inspector General of Police, Mr David Asante-Apeatu” .

I have put the name of Mr Ambrose Derry in italics because as Minister of the Interior, he is responsible for the Immigration Department. And we have just learnt – by sheer accident – that despite Mr Derry being part of the Task Force, the Immigration Department of his Ministry has been allowing Chinese nationals to enter Ghana without visas!

Chinese nationals, it turns out, are being given the greatest honour a country can bestow on foreigners, that is, being issued with visas after their arrival in the country.

It is a great honour to be given a visa on arrival because the visa-applying mechanism enables the visa-issuing authorities to investigate the backgrounds of visa applicants to: (1) make sure that no criminal record exists against them either at home or abroad; (2) ensure that the visitors would be able to return to their countries easily (by means of their possession of a return ticket); and (3) provide proof that they would have enough monetary resources to cover their accommodation and living expenses whilst they are in the country. Usually, a citizen of the country is also required to guarantee that the would-be visitor is known to them and is of good character. The guarantor may also be asked to undertake to provide the visitor, should the authorities seek him/her in relation to the commitment of a crime, and be unable to do so.

So, even for foreigners without a history of crime behind them, being given a visa on arrival is very rare privilege. For Chinese nationals, who have brought machines into our country to devastate our rivers, streams, water-bodies and farms to such an extent that a German film described Ghana as a land full of “craters” that resemble the “lunar landscape”, to be given visas on arrival is quite simply insane.

 

Funnily enough, the generality of Ghanaians would not have known of this fact – which explains why the Chinese participation in the galamsey menace is so pervasive – had not the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Miss Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, come out to deny that she had “cancelled” the practice of issuing Chinese nationals with visas on their arrival. Here is the the story:

 QUOTE: Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, says she had

s no hand in the revocation of [the] visa on arrival service to Chinese nationals who visit Ghana for business or any other purpose. According to her, [the] visa on arrival service…. lies in the bosom of the Minister for the Interior. The Foreign Affairs Ministry, she noted, only issues visas in their missions [outside the country.]UNQUOTE].

The Government of Ghana had, on Tuesday, October 24, 2017, announced the cancellation of Emergency Visa or Arrival Visa for Chinese nationals as part of the fight against galamsey.

However, according to the Minister of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Mr Kofi Dzamesi, the visa on arrival service will no more be available to Chinese nationals. “The Chinese nationals come to the country to engage in galamsey, they defecate into our rivers and pollute our rivers through illegal mining,” Mr. Dzamesi noted.

He continued: “But now, the Arrival Visa which the former government granted the Chinese, has been cancelled. So if you are a Chinese and come to Ghana without Visa, you will go back to your China land.

After all, when we go to China, they don’t give us arrival Visa so why should we (Ghana) give them arrival Visa?”

Good question, Mr Dzamesi. Certainly, there are too many jokers in the Ghana governmental system. The anti-galamsey task force was formed in August and has been doing its work very effectively. But it’s taken two whole months for it to emerge that the Ministry of the Interior was all the time taking with one hand, what the Ministry f Defence was giving with the other. That is unacceptable and I hope the President does not allow this exhibition of nonsensical behaviour go uninvestigated and thereby remain unpunished.

By Cameron Duodu

 

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