During the “lockdown” implemented by the Government to try and limit the spread of Covid-19, our Government, out of humanitarian concern, tried to distribute food to some of the inhabitants of the urban centres.
If the initial distribution went well (so it was hoped) the Government would do more to help those who were prevented by the “lockdown” from working.
Well, very early on, those in charge of the exercise came face to face with “crowd psychology.” Even though it was clear that the Government had been moved by altruistic motives, some people thought they would be robbed of their share unless they forced their way to the front of the queues.
So bad was the situation that eventually, the food distribution idea was scrapped. It may well have been the case that some of the people in the queues were not just ordinary people trying to get food for themselves and their families, but people with a political agenda. Some felt that the NPP Government would become win more votes if it was able to campaign under the slogan, “WE GAVE YOU FOOD WHEN YOU NEEDED IT!”
If that was not case, why did millions of people wait patiently at registration centres to be registered as voters?
You see, “crowd psychology” needs to be stirred before it can work. If the registration exercise were undermined, all political parties would be affected by the end-result. So, propagandists had to be careful not to wreck the whole train on which everyone was travelling to election day!
But with food distribution, why, if an agent provocateur was handed say, ten cedis, to go and make distribution “difficult” or impossible somewhere, he or she could use the ten cedis for personal feeding, and leave the would-be beneficiaries to go hungry.
I bring the phenomenon of “crowd psychology” to the attention of those of my fellow countrymen and women who are engaged in galamsey. They may sleepwalk into a situation in which they destroy the very country in which they hope to enjoy riches.
Suppose one makes a lot of money out of galamsey and one is thus able to expend huge sums of money in campaigning to win power, and one then finds that whilst trying to use that power to govern, one is faced with “crowd psychology” on an enormous scale?
The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, must have had such a scenario in mind when he touched on the question of galamsey during his electioneering tour of Ghana’s rural areas recently.
Other politicians – both on the NPP side and the NDC side – have chosen to keep rather mute about galamsey, for obvious reasons.
It’s because there ARE people making a good living for themselves out of galamsey. And there also ARE people able to “win” voters and electioneering agents on to their campaign trains, because they have enough money to disperse to such people to make it worth their while do that.
But what they ignore is this: what will be the point of it all if those who have used galamsey money to win the election, find that they have to lock themselves behind impregnable gates, because their fellow countrymen and women want their blood because they believe that the powerful and rich people are somewhat responsible for ruining the nation’s water sources?
That they caused the situation in which the people neither have water to drink, nor to wash or cook with?
If one is a deep thinker, this should be a worrying scenario. For I tell you, if you are used to village life and you see a galamsey site for the first time you may weep, whether you like it or not.
The excavators are used in such a brutally haphazard fashion on farmlands and riverbanks that it is impossible to even find a pathway into say a farm whose features were once familiar to oneself.
I have written about the total disbelief with which I once observed the destruction on such a farm. I tell you it is capable of turning one into a near-misanthrope.
I was therefore extremely pleased when I heard that President Akufo-Addo had pointed an accusing finger at “some DCEs, MCEs, politicians and chiefs” who, he said, “are involved in illegal galamsey activities.”
According to the President, the excuse given by these galamsey perpetrators is that “the activity gives employment to the youth”. However, he cautioned that it would be “prudent” for them to put an end to it. He said:
QUOTE: “As for the galamsey, it is not only the youth who are doing it. MCEs, DCEs, Ministers are involved…Even some of you (chiefs) are involved. Indeed, the activity generates lots of money..[But] galamsey money is evil, so let us all come together to reduce it”. UNQUOTE
The President was inaugurating a Community Mining Program to create jobs for over 2,000 trained youth in the Nzema East Municipality. He urged the chiefs to employ the youth to join the Community Mining Programme; to get trained; and to practise “safe mining.”
“I know people are saying that [galamsey] is what is feeding the youth…[But] we have to think of a new job opportunity for the youth,” the President emphasised.
The President also inaugurated similar Community Mining Schemes at Aboso, Gwira Egila/Gwira, and Akango/Duale. The Schemes are expected to create ten thousand (10,000) jobs at Aboso and two thousand additional jobs at Egila/Gwira and Akamgo/Duale.
President Akufo-Addo explained that the Community Mining Scheme “is an initiative meant to encourage responsible small-scale mining, in communities across the country, .”in line with the Minerals and Mining Law, 2015, Act 703”.
Recounting the menace wreaked by galamsey across the country, prior to his assumption of office in January 2017, the President stated that the phenomenon led to the pollution of waters, the degradation of lands, the non-reclamation of degraded land, and the use of dangerous chemicals, such as mercury and cyanide, on the environment.
“I was of the view, a view shared happily by the majority of Ghanaians, that, if we allowed it to continue, we would be jeopardising both our present and our future. Our responsibility, to this end, was clear,” he said. He specified that “one of the measures instituted by Government to deal with the menace of galamsey, is the Community Mining Scheme.”
The President Akufo-Addo added: “We believe that participation by the host communities in mining will set us, as a nation, on the journey to boost the rural economy, help rural infrastructure development, and improve livelihoods, through shared wealth. It will also enable Ghanaians develop the capacity to take over, eventually, the operations of the minerals sector.”
These are the “carrot” element of the Government’s anti-galamsey programme, and no person of goodwill can find fault with that aspect of the programme. What people are worried about is that the “stick” element – using the newly enacted amendments to the Minerals Laws to bring galamseyers and their collaborators to book – will be strongly applied by the Government, when the need arises.
By CAMERON DUODU