Catholic Bishops in Ghana have outlined various issues affecting the West African nation, which they want addressed to realize some progress in the country.
In a six-page collective statement issued at the end of their Annual Plenary Assembly, members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference (GCBC) highlight socio-economic challenges, the bane of partisan politics in Ghana, bribery and corruption, illegal mining (galamsey), and the protracted Bawku Conflict among the issues that must be addressed.
In the statement shared with ACI Africa Friday, November 11, GCBC members recall that last year, they “cataloged a number of challenges that confronts us as a nation”, and find it regrettable that after a year, “the situation has worsened. The numerous challenges persist.”
The challenges that have persisted in the West African nation, the Catholic Bishops, say, include the “high cost of living, high inflation, youth unemployment, bribery, corruption, greed, selfishness, lack of patriotism, poverty, deplorable roads, carnage on our roads, armed robbery, murder and other crimes, galamsey, weak and ineffective institutions of governance, abandoned and unfinished government projects, the culture of impunity, examination malpractices, violence, intimidation, attack on media men and women, human trafficking and abductions.”
“These challenges, in addition to the current global crisis, have contributed to our current socio-economic situation,” GCBC members say.
The Catholic Bishops in Ghana express their concerns about “the economic hardships becoming unbearable for Ghanaians.”
“Our interactions reveal that Ghanaians are getting angry, frustrated and disappointed,” they say, and add, “This anger is growing and is expressed through booing at government officials, demonstrations, open insults etc.”
They call for “an urgent action to douse the anger and frustration of the people.”
GCBC members also call on the government to “intensify the stakeholder engagements that should be all-inclusive and non-partisan.”
“We believe that through these broader consultations, we shall develop a more robust economic policy for our country and ensure its implementation,” they say.
Turning their attention on “the bane of partisan politics in Ghana”, the Catholic Bishops say, “Politics in Ghana has unfortunately split Ghanaians on partisan lines.”
“This makes it difficult for us to speak with one voice and come together for the sake of the common good. Because of unhealthy partisan politics, one's commitment to the nation and the Church is mostly sacrificed for the interests of one's party,” they say.
The Catholic Church leaders call on the two major political parties, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) “to accept the fact that none of them alone has the solutions to our economic challenges.”
“That is why both have resorted to the IMF and the World Bank for support over the years. This is a clear indication that we have to come together as one people and collectively look for a permanent solution to our challenges,” they say.
In the statement signed by the newly elected GCBC President, Bishop Matthew Kwasi Gyamfi, the Catholic Church leaders express their concerns about bribery and corruption in the West African nation.
“Our previous calls on this issue seem to yield no positive result. We reiterate that corruption in every facet of Ghanaian life is not only perceived but very rife. This is unacceptable and must be dealt with at all times and at all levels of human endeavor,” they say.
GCBC members call on “every Ghanaian religious leaders, individuals, government agencies, service providers, public and civil servants – to stand up and to defend the cause of justice, probity and accountability.”
“Ghana must lead and live the crusade against corruption. Let us eschew all attitudes, behaviors and actions that support, encourage and condone bribery and corruption,” they say, and call on “all Catholics, especially those in politics and public service to lead this crusade against corruption.”
The members of GCBC are also concerned about “galamsey or illegal mining activities and their devastating effect on the environment, our water bodies, the forest reserves and the quality of life of our people.”
“It is common knowledge that the main financiers/kingpins of this illegal mining include chiefs, politicians, Regional Ministers, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs), Security Personnel among others. This is the main reason for our inability to uproot the menace of galamsey and have difficulty in prosecuting those arrested for their involvement in illegal mining,” the Catholic Bishops lament.They urge the “relevant agencies responsible for the protection and preservation of our natural resources to ensure the prosecution of the financiers of activities that result in major crisis facing the country such as illegal mining (galamsey).”
“We strongly propose that a moratorium be placed on granting new concessions and issuing of licenses for mining,” GCBC members recommend, and add, “In the case where any actions have already been taken, we propose that operationalizing of the agreements be placed on hold until a clear pathway is developed to ensure modern and environmentally friendly mining.”
They continue, “Government in partnership with the private sector should engage all stakeholders to develop and operationalize alternative sources of livelihood for those involved in illegal mining.”
Regarding the protracted conflict in the Ghanaian district in the Upper East region, North of the country that is adjacent to the border with Burkina Faso, the Catholic Church leaders say, “It appears the conflict and insecurity in Bawku are gradually getting off the radar of the Government.”
“The town has become a pale shadow of itself as Education, Health and Social are adversely affected by the exodus of teachers, nurses and business people from this area,” they lament.
GCBC members say the Nana Akufo-Addo-led government “needs to pay attention to the plight of the remnant residents of the town by ensuring that lasting solution is found for the conflict in the area and should act swiftly to prevent Bawku and its environs from becoming a possible launching pad for terrorist groups operating in neighbouring countries.”
They also appeal “to the factions involved in the conflict to help the process of peacebuilding for the sake of the future of Bawku and the peace of Ghana.”
GCBC members call on “all Ghanaians to be hopeful.”
“We appeal to all to pray and continue to make the necessary sacrifices as we look forward to quick interventions that will bring us out of the current difficulty,” they say, and add, “We can make it together and as our theme for the plenary suggests, through participation and communion we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.”
They urge Ghanaians “to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers and all people of good will for the building of the body of the Church until we attain the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God.”