Evidence that this country's propaganda landscape has changed beyond measure is provided by the fact that in less than a week of the President ordering a new initiative by the armed forces, against galamsey operations on our rivers, at least two major videos have appeared on the Internet, tearing the new effort to shreds. ALREADY!
Now, these propagandists are not of the usual "ranter" type, whom one can dismiss immediately they sail into the deceptive waters of the Queen's English. Both these guys are well spoken and they alternate between Twi and English with the greatest of ease. Not only that - they effortlessly disparage the logic of the official line, as picked up from news items.
The more dangerous propagandist - because he appears personable and relaxed - "shares" with his viewers, his "well-researched" conclusion that the Government is once again being duplicitous with the public over its anti-galamsey stance.
"You see what they are doing now?" he asks. "Because Ghanaians have been asking questions about where the previously-seized excavators are, they now say that when they seize excavators, they will burn them on the site where they were seized! If they have been "burnt," you can't ask for their whereabouts, can you?" And he chuckles: hahahaha!
Now, his is an posture that cannot be ignored. I have warned the Government before, myself, that if you allow your credibility to be punctured, someone else will fill the vacuum. And here we are.
What the Government has said, as one report puts it, is:
"Unlike previous attempts to flush out illegal miners from Ghana's water bodies and forest reserves, the Government has announced that all equipment that will be seized under a new effort to end galamsey will be destroyed on-site. The operation, which involves the deployment of 200 military personnel, [has] already [resulted in ]nine excavators, 127 changfans (washing machines), and one fuel pump which were being used for illegal mining in the river Pra, [being] have destroyed [detonated] by the military.
"The exercise on the Pra dubbed "Operation Halt"... . also resulted in the arrest of two Chinese nationals at Anttieku, near TwifoPraso, in the Central Region for illegally mining in a forest reserve. Addressing a press briefing on the military operation... the Minister of Defence, Mr Dominic Nitiwul said the Chinese had been handed over to the national security for further interrogation and would be prosecuted.
He said: "It is noted that since the commencement of the operation, the troops have destroyed a good deal of equipment, including nine excavators, 127 changfans -machine platforms associated with mining, and one fuel pump. Furthermore, the following items have been seized and would be destroyed, except items that will be used as exhibits in court. The items include 8×24 plate batteries, one pump-action gun case, a generator, Huawei phone, chainsaw machine, eight raincoats, fuel filters, non-citizen Ghana ID cards, two drilling equipment, and two boots. These items will be destroyed except what the police deem necessary for their work for prosecution.
Mr Nitiwul continued: "The law already outlaws mining within the river bodies and 100 metres to each of the flanks of [a] river. If you do any activity there, it is an illegal activity. The President has directed that we clean up the river bodies and like I said, we are not taking any equipment home, we are not seizing any equipment, no equipment will be returned home. It's not like before, where you will seize equipment. They will all be destroyed on-site, it is as simple as that." UNQUOTE
Well, the propagandists are laughing. "You say you have burned them. But why should we take your word for it? Didn't you tell us before that you had taken seized equipment to the police for safe-keeping? Or to the government installations in the districts? But didn't they end up back in the hands of the owners, who knew what telephone numbers to call to have their equipment released back to them? "
These rhetorical questions are, of course, eagerly swallowed by Joe Public,, who is getting increasingly angry that he has to spend more and more moneybuying sachet water or bottled water to meet the needs of his family. Because Ghana's natural water-supplies are almost all polluted by galemseyers.
Maybe the only answer to public scepticism would be for the Government to designate a location as a "seized illegal mining equipment crematorium"?
Yes, why not? "Saturday 11.30 a.m. Public burning of seized excavators, bulldozers and changfans. At such and such a location. Face masks will be obligatory. Social distancing will be strictly observed, Come one, come all!"
You think that's absurd? Go and tell that to a determined propagandist and he will ask you this: "You say you have made videos or taken still photographs of equipment being burned on-site, right? But how can you prove that the burning was not "staged"? How can you prove that the pictures are not old pictures hat have been retouched and presented as 'new'?"
You see? What did I say about the consequences of a Government losing its credibility?
The second propagandist on the Net is even more pernicious in his assertions. Sounding like someone who knows China well, he claims he has seen "plans" by the Chinese, not only to destroy our rivers and water-bodies, but also, to poison our farmlands by saturating them with chemicals to an extent whereby the countries of the "European Union" (who, he alleges, are already complaining about the quality of Ghana's cocoa) will stop buying cocoa from Ghana.
He then shows pictures of "Chinese nationals" learning how to plant and harvest cocoa! "China will supplant Ghana as a supplier of cocoa to the European Union and other chocolate-manufacturing countries," he says without flinching.
He adds, for good measure, the speculation that "When Ghana cannot earn foreign exchange any longer from the sale of cocoa, she will have to borrow more money from China! And Ghanaians will become the servants of the Chinese!"
I have written before that China, with its extremely well-developed systems of public surveillance and record-keeping, should make sure that no Chinese with criminal convictions, are allowed to leave China to come to Ghana. Ghana and China have been friends for a long time.
Through the Afro-Asian People's Organisation, which was very active after the Bandung Conference of the mid-1950s, Ghana contributed its share towards creating solidarity between China and the Afro-Asian nations. This solidarity was necessary because after the 1949 People's revolution in China, the United States attempted to isolate China from the rest of the world. At the United Nations, relentless efforts were made by the Afro-Asian nations to give back to the People's Republic, China's UN seats on the Security Council and in the General Assembly.
A few "gold-diggers" from China should not be allowed to destroy this friendship between the peoples of China and Ghana. The process has started - as the Internet examples I've written about, clearly demonstrate.