The turnout for the national dialogue on small-scale mining at the International Conference Centre, in Accra, from April 14-15, was impressive.
And so were the speeches by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the Minister, as well as the invited discussants.
But one ventures to ask: what was said that was different from what had been said before– especially in mid-August 2018, by the same Government, which then launched “Operation Galamstop”?
In fact, Operation Galamstop was a thoroughly constructed, technically proficient one-stop “road-map” for stopping galamsey. Whereas what the new national dialogue has done is to throw up many“recommendations”, each of which will need to be returned into a practical programme, before implementation. What's the point of going through so many words, words and more, words all over, again? No wonder some commentators have described the exercise as a “waste of time.”
For instance, the Chair of the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas, Dr Steve Manteaw, “expressed disappointment in the government for organizing yet another national consultative dialogue” on galamsey. He told TV3:"I am disappointed because of the money we have wasted on holding consultative forums such as this.
“We spent a lot of money organizing public consultations in Tarkwa, on a programme that was dubbed 'MIIP.'...We didn't see much come out of that consultative forum! Then, it transitioned to the 'ASM' formalization programme. Again, we haven't seen much [come out of it]... And then, we introduce a new consultative dialogue into the framework. It gets a bit confusing. It creates the impression that we are really not committed [to] dealing with the problem." https://www.theheraldghana.com/general/Akufo-Addo-Clears-NPP-Big-Wigs-Appointees-Involved-In-Galamsey-19880
Indeed, the time has come for the Government to “walk the talk”. Fortunately, the Communique issued at the end of the dialogue, reflected the frustration with which the Government's pussyfooting around the issue has been received by the more discerning sections of the populace. The communique focused in on the most important job to be done: it underlined the Government's obligation to put in place, systems for “the rigid application of the laws against galamsey.”
It specifically called for the sanctions and penalties imposed by “the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act, 2019 (Act 995), to be applied to all those who infringed the law, irrespective of political colour, socio-economic status or class.”
What are the crucial provisions of the Act 995 of 2019 mentioned by the Communique? Act 995 of 2019 says:
QUOTE: “Offences and Penalties”:
…. A person who (a): without a licence granted by the Minister, undertakes a mining operation; ...(c): acts or instigates, commands, counsels, procures, solicits, or in any manner (d); purposely aids, facilitates, or encourages, or promotes any acts in contravention of a provision of this Act (in respect of which a penalty has not specified}; or (e): contracts a foreigner to provide mining support services commits an offence and (f): is liable to summary conviction to a fine of not less than ten thousand penalty units and not more than fifteen thousand penalty units, and to a term of imprisonment of not less than fifteen years and not more than twenty-five years.
(3) A non-Ghanaian who undertakes a mining operation or facilitates the participation of any person in mining ... commits an offence and is liable on a conviction to (a): a fine of not less than one hundred thousand penalty units and not more than three hundred and fifty thousand penalty units, and (b): a term of imprisonment of not less than twenty years and not more than twenty-five years; or (c): both.
“(4) Where a non-Ghanaian who is liable, on summary conviction under subsection (3), is a person liable to deportation, under section 35 of the Immigration Act, 2000 (Act 573), that foreigner shall, where sentenced to a term of imprisonment, serve the full sentence before deportation;...
(5) A Ghanaian who (a) permits a non- Ghanaian to undertake or to participate, or (b) facilitates the participation of a non-Ghanaian,
in mining contrary to this Act commits an offence and is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of not less than thirty thousand penalty units and not more than one hundred thousand penalty units AND to a term of imprisonment of not less than fifteen years and not more than twenty-five years.
“(6) A person who fabricates, manufactures or uses a floating platform or any other equipment for mining, dredging or any other mode of mining for the purpose of obtaining minerals in or along the banks of a natural water body including a river, a stream, a water course, the exclusive economic zone and any area covered by the territorial sea or continental shelf of the Republic of Ghana... is liable …. to a fine of not less than fifty thousand penalty units and not more than one hundred thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not less than fifteen years and not more than twenty-five years, or both.
“(7) A person who provides of is involved in the provision of an excavator or any other equipment for mining operations... commits an offence and is liable.... to a fine of not less than fifty thousand penalty units and not more than one hundred thousand penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not less than fifteen years and not more than twenty-five years or both.
“(9) A court that convicts a person for any offence under subsection (2), (3), (5), (6) or (7) SHALL, in addition to the penalty that the court shall impose, order the forfeiture of any equipment or product seized ... to the State.... The Minister shall, within sixty days after the confiscation of the equipment …. allocate [it] to the appropriate State institution and publish in the Gazette the name of the State institution to which [it] is allocated. ...(11):In this section, “court” includes the Circuit Court.”UNQUOTE
Are these penalties not enough to deter any galamseyer who values his liberty and who, genuinely, wants to put a stop to his/her criminality? But how can the criminals cultivate an incentive to end their criminality if they suspect that the Government passed the Act for propaganda purposes only, and does not want to put any teeth I to the provisions of the Act by scrupulously enforcing it?
The public would like to know from the Government why it is that since Act 995 came into operation over a year ago, there have continued to be reports of the arrest of “Chinese”, Ghanaian and other galamseyers and yet, so far, it appears that not a single person has been prosecuted under the Act!
Yet no less a person than the President of the Republic urged, not only the prosecution of offenders but stringent enforcement, by the judiciary, of the penalties under the Act. The President stated: QUOTE: “My own belief is that, apart from exhortations, we need also to strengthen the institutional arrangements, because many of these things that happen are the result of delinquency on the part of the state itself.”UNQUOTE
OYIWA! [THERE YOU HAVE IT.]
What are we to conclude from the fact that despite being called out by the President, the police, the prosecution service and the judiciary have not stopped their “delinquent” behaviour? Are they in open rebellion against the President of the Republic? If so, what is the President going to do about it?
"The President needs to answer Hamlet's question: "To be or not to be!"