The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Peter Amewu, has confirmed the common assertion that his government is unwilling and perhaps, unable to come to terms or even have a civilised discussion with people who elected them and paying them through their taxes. The Minister’s pronouncement in reaction to former President Mahama’s advice to the Akufo-Addo government, demonstrates the critical need for a comprehensive assessment of our ministers. One would have thought that the excruciating damage inflicted Akufo-Addo and the National Patriotic Party by this same Minister would have humbled him. The Bible says, “if any of you lack wisdom, let him as of God that gives to all men and upbraids not and it shall be given to him” (James 1:5).
The Minister has still not responded to allegations levelled against him by some persons in the industry that he condoned and conspired with some foreigners by allowing them to maneuver easily with bribes where necessary. The Chief of Defence Staff during the inauguration of the last anti-galamsey task force , confirmed bribery allegation against his personal. The honourable Minister denied this allegation only for the Chief of staff himself to expose his hypocrisy. The Minister’s pronouncement was another misadventure and inglorious efforts to further duringmisinform Ghanaians especially by just misquoting the former President. The character trait of lack of comprehension of ideas is equally being exhibited currently by the Akufo-Addo government. After all, the President and party leaders denied bluntly promising the galamsey operators of official protection if they help the Npp win political power. While I don’t want to further dignify Peter Amewu’s ignorance, arrogance and lack of comprehension on the matter under review, I wish to inform him that President Mahama in government, outlined one of the best small scale mining policies with ample provision for restructuring of small scale mining. It is also important to remind the Minister that the approach his Ministry has adopted to curb the menace was first implemented by the Mills/Mahama administration. It is therefore my understanding that his ministry’s approach that has a resemblance of what the Mills/Mahama administrations initially adopted in it was coined from the NDC’s inititial plan action which was latter substituted with a more scientific approach.
Peter Amewu has suddenly metamorphosed into a prophet, prophesying the fate of the former President. That is how power destroys weaker souls. Let the Minister know that Ghanaians cannot be deceived again with their primitive antics. The Minister thinks a party that cannot stand on its promises and accept responsibility to deliver dividends of democracy to the people as it promised, saddled with unprecedented corruption, nepotism, impunity and arrogance can get reelected but the man whose projects have kept his present busy, generating revenue etc, will not come back?
The Minister should playback what then candidate Akufo-Addo said about galamsey operation. He should playback voices of his top party officials on the issue when they were in opposition. The galamsey operators told Ghanaians that- they contributed millions of cedis to support the Npp campaign with the assurance that, if the Npp wins political power, its administration will support and protect their activities. The current President, his communication boss, Nana Akomea, and host of party functionaries condemned efforts by the Mahama administration to fight the menace with the reason that, the menace started under his administration when pundits in the industry and a report released on Artisanal and Small-scale Mining in Africa published in 2012 the practice reached its alarming point between 2004 and 2009.
The Minister also exposed the hypocrisy of his party and government. He accused the Mahama administration of destroying excavators and other equipments and singled out Chairman Wontumi among many galamsey operators who were stopped by the task force that monitored activities of the galamsey operators. Is the Minister per his childish tantrum not exhibiting ignorance and hypocrisy? When President Mahama vehemently condemned activities of the galamsey operators in the Eastern Region, Amewu and his party, organised the miners to issue a statement condemning what Mr Mahama said. The then candidate Akufo-Addo and his party attacked the former President through a Pro-npp galamsey operators group “The Artisanal and Small Scale Mining Africa-Network. In their statement, the group attacked for allegedly describing Kyebi as the Headquarters of galamsey. The pro Npp group, said Mr Mahama’s statement was indirect or inherent confirmation of the widely held belief that militarisation through the use of task force to stop illegal mining (galamsey) in the country was not the best approach. What has changed? How different is their approach from the approach he, his government, through (ASMAN) condemned vigorously in opposition?
Mr Amewu accused the former President that his government destroyed seized equipments of the galamseyers and mentioned the case of Wontumi to support his claim. The Npp in opposition accused the Mahama administration that it left seized equipments in the hands of some MMDCES and other opinion leaders who allegedly used them to perpetuate same illegality. So which is which..? were the equipments destroyed, or were left in the hands of the MMDCES as the Npp alleged in opposition?
The Npp vehemently condemned a statement by Mr Mahama that the World Bank and Chinese Technology will partner the country to embark on a reclamation project to reclaim the dangerously abandoned pit. The Npp did all they could to frustrate the Mahama administration’s moves to fight the menace and at a point quoted the small scale mining committee, as stipulated in Section 92 of the Minerals and Mining Act 703,2006, to support their position that the task force be disbanded for the districts to take over.
Mr Mahama, usual of him, considered all suggestions brought on board by stakeholders, political parties and leaders, chiefs, civil society organisations and experts and the significance of small scale mining to economic development in the country and outlined scientific policy guideline to guide small scale operation in the country. The policy would have restructured and modified small scale mining to serve as a decent source of employment for the youth. The Mahama administration before leaving office, presented a bill before parliament which among other things sought to modify small scale mining laws and make small scale mining, an alternative employment avenue for the unemployed youth in the country.
Mr Mahama in government, expressed fury over the activities of illegal miners which he blamed for aggravating the flood situation in some parts of the country. But when he started talking about the harmful effect of galamsey, the Npp and its pro Npp radio stations did not appreciate it.
The first Npp administration imposed between $100 and $200 fine on their operations. It was Prof Mills and later Mr Mahama hammered on the need to tighten the law, in terms of enforcement and also punishment.
The Mahama administration abandoned its first approach because of the effect it was having on our youth at the mining communities. The administration designed a more scientific bill which took into consideration the various stakeholders and institutions involved in mining.
The importance of small scale mining in Ghana cannot be overstated. Despite the fact that their operations are small, the combined economic and social impact is significant in Ghana.
Mr Minister, it is estimated that within Sub-Saharan Africa, small scale mining produce gold and gemstones worth billions of dollars. In Ghana, the sector employs over thousands of our youth. It must also be emphasised further that this sub sector produces minerals from deposits which are uneconomical on a large scale. The enormous contribution of the small scale mining sector to the economy of Ghana provides ample justification to examine the laws regulating its very existence to ascertain if they are achieving the desired results not the shoot to kill approach adopted by the Akufo-Addo government.
BY OHENENANA OBONTI KROW