THE CHIEF OF Sanso, Obuasi, in Ashanti has criticised Anglogold Ashanti (Ghana) Limited for not living up to its social responsibility agenda.
The Sansohene, Nana Bawua Afiamoa Kotokuo, in whose territory Anglogold started operating way back in the 1890s said “the people of Sanso have not benefited from the operations of Anglogold.”
Nana Kotokuo challenged the mining company after the managing Director of Anglogold Ashanti Iduapriem mine in Tarkwa made a presentation on his outlet's performance in the last quarter of 2006, in which he mentioned the social investments Anglogold-Ashanti had made in the community at a meeting with stakeholders in Accra.
Nana Kotokuo who was surprised that such developmental projects could be undertaken in Iduapriem where Anglogold started operating from not long ago, said he expected visible proof in respect to community, environmental and social development in his community and “not just invitations to stakeholders' meetings where presentations upon presentations are made.
“The people of Sanso are sick and tired of Anglogold, we come here, talk, talk, talk and nothing happens.”
His people, he said, had started complaining, as some of them felt the chiefs were on the payroll of Anglogold because “we always go and tell them the nice promises you make here, thinking you will fulfill the promises soon but nothing happens.
“We come here, talk and eat… We are tired of this. We want action. Your plan for sustainable development is not working.”
He expressed worry that the communities were compelled to undertake certain projects under Anglogold's community development project. Besides, he complained, the expatriates working in the mines at Sanso do not respect the cultural values of the local people.
He therefore appealed to the management of Anglogold Ashanti to take a second look at their development agenda and if possible, reconsider it.
Another chief, Nana Agyapong Asante II, Saamanhene of Bekwai, Ashanti, where Anglogold operates another mine also complained that his people had been left out of the social responsibility agenda of the mining company.
Mr. Robbie Lazare, Executive Director, Underground Operations for Africa, Anglogold Ashanti office, South Africa, in his response, informed the stakeholders that his company was ready to help any community that had started its own project. “I am a miner, not a farmer, start your own project and the company will come in and help,” he stated.
On the issue of racism and lack of respect for the people of the area, Mr. Ernest Abankroh, country manager of Anglogold Ashanti said the company was taking steps by making special arrangements with the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) to take the expatriates through a cross-cultural training programme named Environment, to get the foreigners acquainted with the cultural values of the local people.
For a better solution, Mr. Kwasi Abeasi, Chief Executive of African Business Roundtable, who was chairing the function, suggested that the chiefs sent representatives to Aduapriem where Anglogold Ashanti had made a benchmark in the social development agenda.
Ms Joyce Aryee, Chief Executive of the Ghana Chamber of Mines said the company was not supposed to impose projects on the communities; they should rather involve them in taking decisions.
She advised also that such projects should empower the youth with skills that would benefit the communities economically.