Former Chief Executive of the Ghana Chamber of Mines has said the practice of illegal small mining popularly known as ‘galamsey’ in the country has been fuelled by politics.
This, according to Dr Toni Aubynn, has been the case each during election campaigns by politicians in times past.
“In 2008, [for instance] during that election, there was a presidential candidate who went to Prestea and said Prestea was galamsey and galamsey was Prestea, so these things were propelled by politics,” he said on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Minister-Designate for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor at Wednesday’s vetting, said President Akufo-Addo has “walked his talk” when he pledged to put his Presidency on the line to fight the canker.President Akufo-Addo walked the talk and put his presidency on the line to fight galamsey – Jinaporhttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.443.0_en.html#goog_767072619Volume 90%
He further told the Appointments Committee about the need to de-politicise small-scale mining business in the country to enable broad-based support.
Probing the issue on PM: Express Wednesday night, Dr Aubynn said the problem has persisted, also because politicians fail to pay attention to historical antecedents.
“Obviously, politicians don’t want to listen to history because what happened in the last four years could have been averted if our politicians had listened or gone back to history,” he explained.
The Former Minerals Commission and Chamber of Mines CEO maintained “there hasn’t been any time that during presidential campaigns, the presidential candidates haven’t campaigned saying that when we come to power, we are going to get you back to do your small scale or illegal mining.
“But then as soon as they come to power, then they try to create the energy to try and stop them.”
“So it’s like you take it from one group of people and give it to another group of people and that is not going to solve the problem if our concern is the challenges of the environment,” he observed.
The fight against galamsey has seen so many arrests, seizure of excavators and “the application of brute force into stopping what appears to be people trying to heck out a living,” but Dr Aubynn says that was not new.
According to him, “the very definition of small scale mining in our minerals and mining act is also questionable because we talk about mining by Ghanaian in a certain age, but, doesn’t talk about the kind of equipment that is required to be used and all that.”
He further noted that there are situations where any time an action is taken against illegal activities, “a politician would come and say, this is my person or our person, so we should just allow them.”
Dr Aubynn said there is a need, as a country to focus on such attitudes as a national challenge while at the same trying to address the root cause of the problem, adding that “even when the ban was on, people were still trying to defy the ban to still survive.”
Going forward, he advised, the approach must be “a national developmental” one and “not using politics because we saw it, clearly when the ban was enforced, there were people who were actively engaging in it and there were allegations that some of them were being protected.”
He also emphasized focus on “policy, technology, education as a way of trying to address this.”
By Miriam A Cobblah