The fight against illegal mining can never be romanticized given its pervasiveness. But with the greatest of respect, burning excavators simply because the previously seized ones got back to their owners, does not make sense.
What is happening to our thinking capacity?
Why do you burn excavators when you need same excavators to go reclaim the land that has been destroyed? Why do you burn excavators and later use tax payers’ money to go procure new ones to reclaim destroyed lands?
The explanation that the previously confiscated ones “flew away” like guinea fouls to their owners, insults the intelligence of Ghanaians. Who was placed in charge of those seized excavators?
Who took inventory of those excavators seized? Why can’t we hold them accountable and responsible for the “missing excavators”?
Who was arrested and prosecuted for the missing excavators? Why should our incompetence in dealing with those who supervised the “flying” of the seized excavators back to their owners, lead to another senseless approach in dealing with the problem of illegal mining?.
There is something wrong with our thinking and that’s why we still haven’t been able to develop, in spite of all the strategies for national development, implemented since independence, beginning from Import Substitution Industrialization, through the Structural Adjustment Programme, Application of Political Conditionality, the Lagos Plan of Action, the NEPAD, HIPC, MDGs, SDGs, to all the developing policy frameworks implemented since 1992.
If the state that legally has monopoly over the deployment of coercive apparatus and instrument of force, has been overly politicized to the extent that it cannot perform a minimum function of keeping seized excavators in safe custody for its own future use, and would have to resort to burning of these machines as a solution to illegal mining, then we are worse than an acephalous society.
We just do not have a state!
I like and commend the zeal of the two young ministers of Lands and Defense in the fight against illegal mining that has done a lot of harm to our health, environment and water bodies.
I urge them to carry on with the fight. But the already caused harm of illegal mining, must not make them overly emotional.
They must do a sober introspection and rethink their youthful exuberance that may have guided their zeal to instantly burn excavators, whether being used by legal or illegal miners.
Security operatives must the excavators being used by illegal miners, and bring them under the watch and safe custody of the state, whose role and function, in this fight, must necessarily supersede petty partisan interests.
The state must do its work in ensuring that the confiscated excavators are kept and used for future land reclamation.
Burning them under flimsy and incompetent excuses, and going to buy the same machines in the future for land reclamation, is indicative of our shallow thinking precocity.
Writer: Prof Ransford Yaw Gyampo
About the Author: Dr. Ransford Gyampo is a Research Fellow at the Governance Unit of the Institute of Economic Affairs. His research interest lies in the area of Governance, Democracy, Human Rights and Development. He is currently researching and writing on possible solutions to Ghana’s winner-takes-all politics, which polarizes the nation and undermines national development. He holds a Doctorate Degree in Political Science from the University of Ghana (Legon) /Tufts University (Boston) and has written and published in many internationally refereed journals. For close to ten years, he has worked at the Governance Centre of the Institute and risen through the ranks to become a Research Fellow.