There is no fortitude in the fight against galamsey because some key stakeholders feel isolated in the process. The Chiefs are the important agents in the process, but they consider the fight a responsibility of the state. If the state would ever win the fight against the menace, the Chiefs must be the leaders in the process. The protection of natural resources is a critical responsibility of the Chiefs who are custodians of the land. As custodians, the Chiefs have the responsibility to take care of or protect the natural resources within their areas.
There is an apparent misunderstanding of the responsibilities imposed on the state and the Chiefs with regard to the management and use of natural resources. The state must act as a manager of the natural resources of the country while Chiefs are custodians of these resources. Currently, the Chiefs expect the state and its actors to act us custodians and managers of the natural resources of the country. This has been a bane in the fight against galamsey.
Groups now attempt to assign blames for the failure of the strategy to end the menace. Presently, every group in the fight against galamsey is complicit in the illegal mining activity. There is implicit hypocrisy in the people fighting the menace of galamsey. The menace is not being fought with the warranted sincerity. The menace of galamsey has the same characteristics as corruption itself: it is convoluted activity and tricky.
In my considered opinion, the state has not identified the leader of the fight against galamsey. In an article titled Who should Fight Galamsey, I proposed that Chiefs have the solutions to the problem in their fortitude and therefore must be in the lead to fight this menace. Unless the role of a custodian is taken away from a Chief, the protection of a natural resource is a primary responsibility imposed on them by nature. The authority to control the natural resources of the country may have to be reassessed to define responsibilities.
The failure of the state to deal ruthlessly with the menace is conspicuous, and that suggests the need for a new agenda to fight the menace. The fight needs strong and practical vows from everyone with interest in the process. In that light, I suggest the following as discussed:
There must be a clear roadmap, and modalities for dealing with the menace. The state together with the Chiefs must outline punitive sanctions for people who engage in galamsey. These sanctions must be applied indiscriminately. There are no clearly defined penalties for people who practice galamsey presently. But there cannot be any effective political will from the state or even the government if party faithfuls are engaged in the menace of galamsey. Reports from the grounds indicate “galamseyers” have the backing of some powerful men who use the military to protect them and their activities. With this, the state cannot win the fight as it is tacitly involved in the activities of galamsey through the behaviour of some of its agents.
The Chiefs and state actors must set a framework of sanctions for themselves if they ever allow people to engage in galamsey. The National House of Chiefs, for instance, needs a set of rules of behaviour for the Chiefs in mining districts to regulate their conducts. Such rules of behaviour must have adequate corrective sanctions if galamsey activities continue in the mining areas. A practical code of behaviour from the Chiefs with a hands-on pledge can end the problem.
The actions of the Chiefs cannot alone solve the menace of galamsey. Government officials must cleanse themselves first of any involvement in activities related to galamsey. As alluded to by His Majesty Otumfour Osei Tutu II, the state security has not done enough to end the menace neither has it shown its resolve to end it. The state security is caput in the fight against galamsey. The conclusions that can be inferred from the happenings in the sector are that; either the state security is being used inappropriately or some powerful men are manipulating it at the national level. Traditional authorities may not be able to influence the state security unfairly to their advantage if there is willingness to execute a national policy or plan designed to end the menace of galamsey.
With the lack of political will, from the government to severely punish party faithfuls engaged in galamsey, or from the state to effectively use the state security appropriately and indiscriminately to end the menace, and the relaxed use of traditional authority to ward off “galamseyers”, the state cannot win the fight.
Emmanuel Kwabena Wucharey
Economist Tutor, Advocate and Religion Enthusiast