EDITED EXTRACTS FROM THE SPEECH MADE BY THE MAJORITY LEADER, HON OSEI KYEI MENSAH- BONSU, IN PARLIAMENT — 13 MARCH 2018
Mr Speaker I should thank you for the space to make this comment on the statement made by our colleague, [from the MINORITY side] Hon. Ras Mubarak. I want to believe that he has made a Statement in his capacity as the representative of the constituency. But we must situate the statement in its proper context.
Mr Speaker what I heard him say at the end of the Statement was to call on Parliament to take a certain action. Mr Speaker, he …can make a Statement to explain a matter [that’s] a personal issue or, maybe to address a matter of public interest. But to ask us to take a certain action in the nature of committing Parliament to do something, Mr Speaker, the statement is not a Motion.…We will need that distinction…..
Mr Speaker, I did not hear the member talk about the loss of lives, he didn’t talk about killings. And yet I heard members drifting and trying to cause Parliament to stray from the statement that the colleague had made. ….
Now, the Constitution frowns upon the use of force, to the extent that it may ….deprive some other people of their lives. [But] Mr Speaker, if we agree that, what was going on was criminal, the Constitution does not forbid any person trying to prevent the commission of that crime from pursuing that person [with] a certain force, which may even result in death. And I quote Article 13 — we are all law-makers and should understand the meaning of law. Article 13 of the Constitution provides that:
· No person shall be deprived of his life intentionally, except in exercise of the execution of a court [decision] in respect of a criminal offence under the laws of Ghana, of which he has been convicted.
· A person shall not be held to have deprived another person of his life in contravention of clause one of this Article, if that person dies as a result of a lawful act of war, or if that other person dies as a result of the use of force to such as an extent as is reasonably justifiable, in the particular circumstances, In order to prevent the commission of a crime by that person.
Mr Speaker, sand-winning should be subject to ratification by this House. It is not a weird illusion: the Second Deputy Speaker told us we could even mine minerals from the depths of rivers without polluting it, but he failed to give us a country where this is done. He failed to give us one example, because it doesn’t exist. The Second Deputy Speaker is comparing apples with oranges. There’s a difference between mining in the deep sea, and mining on the bed of the sea or the water body.
Mr Speaker, today Cape Town in South Africa cannot have water because of incessant mining in the river bodies. [Cape Town has been experiencing water problems] for four years now and it’s attributed to incessant mining of the water bodies. In [Ghana] during the colonial period, farming was not allowed into water bodies…. The minimum was fifty feet for stream-let, [while for] the stream, [the minimum was] one hundred feet on either side of the water. And [for] a river, the minimum was two-hundred feet. And yet people are flouting this with impunity. That itself is criminality. I totally disagree with people who think we should allow some criminality.
[In 1983], when people returned from Nigeria and brought back their chain-saw machines and engaged in illegal felling of trees, we said to] ourselves that we should stop them. The agreement at that time was that, let’s create alternatives for them. Less than thirty years after that, half of our forest cover is gone!
…At the turn of the 20th century, we had a forest cover of 8.5 million hectares, up to 1980. We had six million [hectares] between 1980 and the third part of the century. Today, the depletion has [been] more than five million hectares because of the activities of illegal chain saw operators. And we should grant them liberties to continue to do this?
The forest from Paga close to Burkina Faso is green, and they even have a forest reserve because they lynch all [those] arrested in illegal activities. While we are hastening the downward trend [towards becoming a] desert, they are stopping it.
Mr Speaker, Article 257 (6) provides [that] Every mineral in its natural state being under or acquired in any land in Ghana, rivers, streams, water-cause throughout Ghana’s exclusive economic zone, and any area covered by the territorial, sea or continental [area] is the property of the Republic and shall be vested in the President on behalf of, and in trust for the people of Ghana.
Mr Speaker, Article 268 (1) then provides: “any transaction, contract or undertaking involving a grant of a right, or concession, by, or on behalf of, any person, including the Government of Ghana, to any other person howsoever, [that] is for the exploitation of any mineral, water or other natural resource of Ghana, made or entered into after the coming into force of this Constitution, shall be subject to ratification by Parliament.
I agree that the previous government started but didn’t achieve much result because the effort was not sustained over a period. What is going on is illegal, and if every measure is taken to prevent it, it should be encouraged. That is why the people [engaged in the illegality] are not coming forward to identify themselves. [For] if there is any damage they will have to pay, they will be made to pay for it. And if the [wronged people] seek redress and they have to pay for it, it will be done. I believe that we should have space for the Parliamentary Committee on Mines to do something on this….
For now, the Hon. Ras Mubarak is representing his position; he has spoken to the tragedy that has befallen them [galamseyers]. He should also speak to the damage that they have caused to the land. They should have the courage to speak to the pollution of the water bodies.
Mr Speaker, I think that we should conduct further investigations because people have their rights abused and if they want to seek redress, you can encourage them on whatever affliction that they want to speak on.
Thank you Mr Speaker