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05.05.2021 Article

Govt not thinking outside the box in galamsey fight — Xavier Sosu

Govt not thinking outside the box in galamsey fight — Xavier Sosu
LISTEN MAY 5, 2021

The fight against galamsey is assuming a wrong turn due to Government's own past failures in the fight. As a people, we must be worried because the havoc caused by galamsey activities is life-threatening and has the potential to endanger the collective future that we all envisage. The activities of galamseyers are gradually leading to very serious irredeemable environmental situations which include loss of biodiversity, clean water and pollution of our soil.

It is obvious that the institutional framework for the implementation of small-scale mining laws has completely broken down with corruption taking center stage. The failure of the Akufo Addo led government to deal with the situation within the last four years shows its weakness and incompetence in dealing with the issue of galamsey.

The just ended Stakeholders dialogue was a confirmation of the failed approach adopted by the Government in the past four years. We hoped that from the said Conference, new methodologies of dealing with the menace would have emerged for adoption.

Sadly, the Statement issued by the Minister of Information conveying the resolutions of the Stakeholders’ forum as a way of dealing with the menace is a false start.

The statement at best is hollow and lacks clarity as to the direction of these new operations.

The content of the statement suggests Government is involved in the business as usual and does not provide any critical out-of-the-box solution to addressing the challenge.

The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for the umpteenth time, indicated his commitment to fighting the phenomenon of illegal small-scale mining, commonly known as galamsey in Ghana.

The President reiterated he will do everything in his power in his second term to bring the galamsey menace to a halt in Ghana during a courtesy call on him by Okyehene Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin and the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Council.

Prior to the meeting, the government through the Ministry for Lands and Natural Resources had held a two-day National Consultative Dialogue on Small-Scale Mining that, among other things, urged the government to firmly enforce the country's laws on mining.

In furtherance of the resolutions of the final communiqué of the Stakeholder Dialogue on Small Scale Mining, and to ensure that mining within water bodies is immediately stopped; the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has authorized the Ghana Armed Forces, to commence an operation to remove all persons and logistics involved in mining from Ghana's water bodies.

Government seems to be adopting the same failed approach in the fight against galamsey, hence there is no guarantee of improved results. We cannot continue to do things the same way and expect a different result. Water bodies that were regaining their natural state at the height of the fight against galamsey are becoming polluted again due to the increasing activities of illegal miners in various parts of the country.

In July 2017, President Akufo Addo served notice that he was prepared to put his Presidency on the line in his quest to fight illegal mining. However, considering the state of galamsey today and its devastating effect on the environment including land, rivers, and water bodies, it is clear to all and sundry that the President's fight against galamsey has failed.

The President, having failed to fight the menace, the honorable thing to do would be for him to resign from office to uphold his integrity. Dishonorably, we are again treated with a plethora of promises and assurances. Words they say are cheap. The President must walk the talk. This galamsey matter is serious and must be given all the needed attention as a people. Water is life.

Delivering a speech at the National Dialogue on Small Scale Mining on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, the President said interestingly that although he is determined to enforce the laws on individuals who are caught engaging in 'Galamsey', he will not activate them based on mere allegations. No Ghanaian has said the President should convict persons based on hearsay or lack of evidence.

In any case, the President does not have the power to convict any person in Ghana – only the Courts do. The President's position again demonstrates the seeming lack of interest in President Akufo Addo to tackle the galamsey menace head-on and crack down the whip on corruption.

This is in sharp contrast to promises by then Presidential Candidate of the New Patriotic Party, Nana Akufo Addo, who indicated his readiness to differently fight corruption through, among other things, the introduction of the Anas principle, the mode of investigation used by one of Africa's ace investigative journalists, Anas Aremeyaw to create a new culture of fear for corrupt practices.

It is therefore not surprising that up to date practically no sanctions have been meted out to Western Regional Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and former Secretary of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining, Charles Bissue, for his role in the galamsey fraud scandal despite corruption allegations against him by Anas Aremayaw Anas, whose principle the President promised to adopt in the fight against corruption. It is also no wonder that no action has been taken in respect of the missing excavators' saga.

Till now, no report has been issued by the Operation Vanguard Taskforce to update Ghanaians on their role, challenges, and impact in the fight against illegal mining. Indeed, some military officers were caught in a Joy News documentary actively engaged in the activity.

Hence, the resolutions and approach by the Government to adopt similar strategies by involving the military in an activity they have already been engaged in shows the lack of ideas and clear direction by the Government in tackling the phenomenon.

For citizens to be fully confident of the Government's fight against galamsey, Government must report fully to Ghanaians on the activities of the Operation Vanguard Taskforce and indicate to Ghanaians the whereabouts of the missing excavators.

If the Akufo Addo-led Government wants the full support of Ghanaians in the fight against galamsey, there must be transparent and accountable and be willing to fully disclose who the interest holders are in all these galamsey sites.

Government must be clear on the sanctions it intends to impose on perpetrators as the present state of galamsey operations contravenes citizens' rights to life, health, environment, and the principles of inter-generational equity. Furthermore, galamsey activities violate Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15.

Mere orders to the military will not address this challenge as many of the officers themselves are complicit in the fight against illegal mining, without any known administrative actions and sanctions against them.

The writer, Hon. Francis-Xavier Sosu is a private legal practitioner, human rights lawyer, Member of Parliament for Madina Constituency, and Deputy Ranking Member of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament. The writer can be contacted via: [email protected] www.madinamp.com

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