NEWS COMMENTARY ON THE BACKLASH OVER THE SENIOR MINISTER’S EXPLANATION OF THE DEPORTATION OF CHINESE GALAMSEY QUEEN AISHA HUANG.
A lot of heat has been generated following an attempt by Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Marfo to explain the rational for the deportation of alleged Chinese illegal miner Aisha Huang. Aisha was put before court for engaging in the illegal mining but the Attorney General filled a nolle prosequi and led to her deportation from the country. A participant in a recent town hall meeting in the United States wanted to know the government’s justification for letting go a woman caught for her involvement in illegal mining. Responding to the question, the Senior Minister said Ghana has great diplomatic relationship with China and intends to partner that country in key infrastructural projects citing the two billion Sinohydro deal. According to Mr. Osafo Marfo, putting that woman in jail is not going to solve Ghana’s economic problems. This statement offended some Ghanaians prompting calls for the resignation of the Senior Minister.
Reacting to the issue of the involvement of some Chinese nationals in illegal mining after a lecture organised by the Confucius Institute at the University of Cape Coast recently, the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, Shi Ting Wang said Ghanaians assist and provide Chinese nationals with protection to engage in illegal mining. He wondered how foreigners are able to find gold deposits without the support of indigenous people.
There is no doubt a substantial chunk of Ghana’s economic growth is fueled primarily by highly resource extractive industries such as mining. The main challenge for the country therefore is to ensure that development meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the environment for future generations. Though illegal mining affects many facets of life, one area in which its impact is felt most is the pollution of rivers and water bodies. Most Ghanaians drink, cook, bath and perform all tasks with the polluted water inspite of the risk of contracting diseases. The Birim, Densu, Ayensu, Pra and Ankobra rivers which serve as sources of water for Ghanaians have turned turbid due to the activities of illegal miners.
The Ghana Water Company had to shut down a water treatment plant due to high cost of chemicals in treating highly polluted water. It is against this background that most Ghanaians hailed the Akufo-Addo administration when it set itself the task of banning illegal mining to sanitise the mining sector and restore river bodies to normalcy. The former Chief Justice, Mrs. Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, during her tenure had to designate 14 special courts across the country to independently handle all illegal mining related offences. So far hundreds of the illegal miners including foreign nationals have been arrested and prosecuted. This makes it imperative for organisations such as the Media Coalition against Galamsey to rekindle efforts towards marshalling support for government’s attempt at ending the canker.
The backlash on Mr. Osafo Marfo’s comments on Aisha Huang’s deportation must be a lesson to all government officials. Some analysts believe Mr. Osafo Marfo, made a complete mockery of the fight against illegal mining and the critical steps government and the Coalition against Galamsey have taken to address the illegal mining.
All, they say, are equal before the law and Aisha Huang can’t be an exception. It is said that to err is human and to forgive is divine. Mr. Osafo Marfo, must listen to himself critically and if convinced he erred must render an unqualified apology to Ghanaians.
In all sincerity, Mr. Osafo Marfo never deliberately intended to ridicule the Ghanaian judicial system just for a mess of pottage. The uproar his statement has generated shows how concerned Ghanaians are to degradation of their environment through illegal mining. Our forest reserves are getting depleted because people in illegal mining have turned their focus there. People must be stopped from enriching their pockets at the expense of our environment. A stitch in time saves nine.
By Justice Mingle, A Journalist.