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GHANA MINE WORKERS UNION HONOURS RAWLINGS

Former President Jerry John Rawlings has charged all Ghanaians to show responsibility to their environment and communities in our bid to confront the scourge of illegal mining.

In an address delivered after receiving a special award from the Ghana Mine Workers Union of the TUC at their 75th anniversary awards event on Friday, the former President who referred to illegal mining as one of the biggest challenges to the mining industry, said the damage to the environment and expensive infrastructure of already established large-scale mining concerns is incalculable. He cited the brazen abuse of the environment by ‘galamsey’ mining as a collective responsibility.

“There is no doubt that institutions have been weak and the commitment of successive governments even weaker because of shallow political expediency, but how do we, for instance, manage to send semi-industrial mining equipment and thousands of foreign nationals through our towns and villages into the thickets of our forests? Local people and traditional leaders are complicit. We like to blame central government but we never look for the log in our own eye and pluck it out!” the former President stated.

Flt Lt Rawlings noted that the biggest source of Ghana’s problems was a lack of noble sentiment and a patriotic sense of responsibility, stating that “until the average Ghanaian recognizes the need to show responsibility first to himself, his family, his environment and community, we will continue to experience economic, social and political poverty.”

Urging the membership of the Mine Workers Union to impact on their communities, the former President said they can be agents of change by using the anniversary to perform deep introspection of what they can do for Ghana.

“Let this be a period when many of your anniversary events are not about wining and dining but also about community interchanges that can impact on the scourge of illegal mining, indiscipline and corruption, which have become more of the norm than the exception.”

The former President said had British businessman and Chief Executive of Lonrho, Tiny Rowland been alive, he would have shared the award with him, describing him as a very special person who was perceptive, extraordinarily bold and courageous.

He said after the handover to Limann’s government in 1979, there were many attempts by the intelligence machinery in collaboration with Western embassies to persuade him to leave the country.

“My refusal to do so unleashed an avalanche of fabrications designed to assassinate my character as a prelude to my physical elimination. The Western intelligence machinery threatened to bury me alive. They very nearly succeeded,” he said.

Flt Lt Rawlings said he miraculously survived the various attempts to destroy him and returned to office to advance the national agenda.

Tiny Rowland, the former President said, also became a target of the West because he dared speak unspoken truths inviting Western wrath, revealing that the spear that was used to destroy Rowland was a Ghanaian who had ironically benefitted from the British businessman’s mentorship. Evil, he stated, had once again triumphed, adding; “If it weren’t for greed and love of power and control over God’s creation and freedom, humanity would not today be confronted with the challenge of global warming.

“He (Tiny Rowland) even took it upon himself to produce a documentary to vindicate Gaddafi over charges by the West,” former President Rawlings disclosed.

The former President also congratulated Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for making Africa proud by winning the Nobel Peace Prize. He said no one is more deserving and his choice enhances the image of the Nobel Peace body. He said he looked forward to the day when there will be a Mandela Justice for Peace Prize, a Pope John Paul Sacrifice for Peace Prize and a Mother Theresa Compassion for Peace Prize. He was also hopeful that unsung heroes such as Palestine’s Hanan Ashrawi will one day win the international recognition they deserve.

The citation accompanying the former President’s award stated, “Your Excellency, your personal involvement and commitment in salvaging the then declining/collapsing mining sector and transforming it into the enviable industry we see today is deeply appreciated. Your demonstration of excellence, high standards of ethical conduct, integrity and civic and social responsibility in those trying days made it possible for the mining sector to attract the needed Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) for its transformation. For this, the Ghana Mineworkers’ Union in particular and the entire mining sector will forever be grateful to you.

Mr Rawlings with officials of Mines workers union

“The dynamic evolution of mineral laws and policies, under your leadership, led to a rapid growth of Ghana’s mining economy. Indeed, between 1983 and 1998, the mining industry brought approximately US$4 billion in Foreign Direct Investment to Ghana, representing more than 60% of all such investment in the country (Ghana Minerals Commission, 2000). The mining sector’s contribution to the nation’s gross foreign exchange earnings, under your leadership, also increased progressively from 15.60% in 1986 to 46% in 1998. In absolute terms, the sector generated US$ 124.4 million in 1986, and US$793 million in 1998 (Ghana Minerals Commission, 2000).

“For instance, between 1984 and 1995, there were significant institutional development and policy changes that offered generous incentives to investors to reflect the new paradigm. The establishment of the Minerals Commission in 1984; the promulgation of the minerals and mining code in 1986; the promulgation of the small-scale mining law in 1989 and the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1994 were all to boost the mining industry in Ghana.”

Other award winners were Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah as well as Comrades Dominic Forvie and Ebow Tawiah.

Issued By:

Kobina Andoh Amoakwa
(Communications Directorate)

Please find below the full text of former President Rawling’s address:

ACCEPTANCE ADDRESS BY H.E. JERRY JOHN RAWLINGS
GHANA MINE WORKERS UNION 75TH ANNIVERSARY
AWARDS DINNER
MOVENPICK HOTEL, ACCRA
FRIDAY OCTOBER 18, 2019

Reverend Chairman,
Deputy Minister for Employment and Labour Relations,
Bright Wireko-Brobby,
Members of the TUC Board,
Executive Committee Members of the Ghana Chamber of Mines,
Management Committee members of the Ghana Mine Workers Union,
Members of the Mine Workers Union,
Colleagues from the PNDC and NDC,
Corporate Ghana,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is an honour to join you here today as part of activities marking the 75th anniversary of the Ghana Mine Workers Union.

Let me first congratulate you on this special milestone. Your Union with a current membership of 13,000, has been the bulwark behind the success story of Ghana’s mining industry.

I do recall with some nostalgia the numerous interactions I had with your Union, often at the mines because my team and I were keen on appreciating challenges firsthand. I do recall too that several of those meetings were held under somewhat tense circumstances because of industrial action.

Many of the policies and actions the PNDC and NDC governments undertook between 1981 and 2000 to resuscitate, revitalize and ensure that the mining sector and allied industries thrived have been mentioned in your glowing citation.

The establishment of the Minerals Commission in 1984 and the promulgation of several mining laws during my tenure were achieved through broad-based consultation with your Union and other relevant industry stakeholders.

Importantly, I cannot accept this award without mentioning the roles several personalities played in the hard work that brought value and respect to the role of the Ghanaian mining industry in the country’s socio-economic development. The likes of the late Comrade Ebow Tawiah, Fred Ohene Kena who has recently passed, Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, Kwame Peprah and P. V. Obeng, to mention a few, played very significant roles in ensuring the revitalization of the mining sector. Our biggest gratitude however goes to the workforce and their dynamic leaders

Ladies and gentlemen, the mining industry is presently facing new challenges. While the industry still contributes significantly towards national GDP, revenues and dividends earned by the state from mining have declined, with oil now the leader in the extractive industry. While there is no doubt that we do not have infinite mineral deposits, the biggest challenge and damage to the industry is illegal galamsey mining.

The damage to the environment and to the expensive infrastructure of already established large-scale mining concerns is incalculable. Entire rivers have been destroyed by the senseless and unbridled abuse caused by greed, unpatriotic attitudes and the failure of the mining supervisory agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency and the security agencies to enforce the laws.

Ladies and gentlemen, the problem of this brazen abuse of our country is collective! There is no doubt that institutions have been weak and the commitment of successive governments even weaker because of shallow political expediency, but how do we, for instance, manage to send semi-industrial mining equipment and thousands of foreign nationals through our towns and villages into the thickets of our forests? Local people and traditional leaders are complicit. We like to blame central government but we never look for the log in our own eye and pluck it out!

The biggest source of Ghana’s challenges is an absolute dearth of noble sentiment. Our patriotic sense of responsibility is lost and until the average Ghanaian recognizes the need to show responsibility first to himself, his family, his environment and community, we will continue to experience economic, social and political poverty.

Our institutions, be they political, industrial, the security agencies, civil and public service or the corporate sector are all staffed by Ghanaians who are drawn from the cohort just described. So what moral values do we expect from such institutions?

Ladies and gentlemen, you may represent just one sector of the country, but with such a large membership, you can also be agents of change. Let this 75th anniversary impact on society in a positive manner. Let this anniversary be an opportunity to perform a deep introspection of what you can do for Ghana and not what Ghana can do for you. Let this be a period when many of your anniversary events are not about wining and dining but also about community interchanges that can impact on the scourge of illegal mining, indiscipline and corruption, which have become more of the norm than the exception.

This is a fine opportunity to say if Tiny Rowland were alive today I’d have invited him to share this award with me. Tiny was a very special person — perceptive, though he said very little. He was also extraordinarily bold and courageous. His investments in Africa were the first sign of this boldness and confidence. Then there was his courage in venturing well beyond domestic issues into the arena of international politics, where only special people like him dare to tread.

So why would I want Tiny Rowland to share this award?

After my handover to Limann’s government in 1979, there were many attempts by the intelligence machinery in collaboration with the Western embassies to persuade me to leave the country. My refusal to do so unleashed an avalanche of fabrications designed to assassinate my character as a prelude to my physical elimination. The Western intelligence machinery threatened to bury me alive. They very nearly succeeded.

Yet miraculously I survived the various attempts to destroy me and returned to office to advance the national agenda.

Tiny Rowland too became a target of the West because he dared to speak unspoken truths and invited their wrath. He even took it upon himself to produce a documentary to vindicate Gaddafi over charges by the West.

Now, the spear that was used to destroy this great man was a Ghanaian who had benefited tremendously from Tiny Rowland’s mentorship.

Can anyone demonstrate to me that evil has not triumphed again and again? If it weren’t for greed and love of power and control over God’s creation and freedom, humanity would not today be confronted with the challenge of global warming. This is not the end of what I have to say on this matter, it is only the beginning. I do hope many of us would be interested in drawing lessons and working together to contain the evil that men do in order to release the truth, freedom and justice so necessary to enrich our lives.

Before, I conclude Mr. Chairman, and while we are still on the matter of awards, let me congratulate Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for winning the Nobel Peace Prize. He has done Africa proud. No one is more deserving and his choice enhances the image of the Nobel Peace body.

I look forward to the day when we will have a Mandela Justice for Peace Prize, a Pope John Paul Sacrifice for Peace Prize and a Mother Theresa Compassion for Peace Prize.

The Vatican would be the ideal owner, keeper, custodian, originator of such awards. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Ahmed with his internationally enhanced image and reputation for justice, freedom and peace could also consider instituting a Mandela peace prize if the Vatican, for political reasons, is unable to do so.

I also look forward to the day when unsung heroes, such as Palestinian professor Hanan Ashrawi, will win the international recognition they deserve.

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, on behalf of all who in diverse ways contributed to the role my governments played in developing the mining sector, I say thank you for this award. I dedicate it to all the unsung heroes, deceased and alive, who worked around the clock to ensure that the mining industry contributed significantly to the socio-economic development o

f the country.

Thank you and good evening.

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