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Bravo, Media coalition against galamsey: So far so fantastic!

By Mawutodzi Kodzo Abissath

 

 

The wisdom of our ancestors is reflected in this patriotic proverb “A comfortable foreign country is never the same as your own country no matter what”.

 

On Tuesday, April 4, 2017, the Ghanaian media demonstrated that sense of patriotism with the official launch of Media coalition against galamsey here in Accra.The objective of the coalition among other things it to play an advocacy role by creating awareness through public education campaigns about the destruction farmlands and pollutions of rivers and water bodies by galamsey activities in the country.


As ‘I sat my somewhere’ watching the scene on Ghana Television, I could not help but to start clapping alone like a mad man in my office for the Graphic Communications Group Ltd and the media partners. All those who matter in the media sector of the nation including the Minister for Information Hon. Mustapha Abdul-Hamid were there.

 

I saw Mr Ransford Tetteh, the veteran Editor of the Daily Graphic and former President of the Ghana Journalist Association play the role of ‘commandant-in-chief’ who directed affairs. If I were writing a script for dramatization, I would have characterized the Managing Director of GCG Ltd. Mr. Kenneth Ashigbey as the protagonist of the whole caboodle. For, I observed that he was more vociferous than all the speakers put together.


Then entered Lawyer Yaw Boadu Ayeh-Boafo, General Manager Newspapers of that progressive media institution who provided the legal rock upon which the entire episode was constructed. 

 

It was fantastic and I say BRAVOOO to the entire media in Ghana.


But something happened which took away the shine of the otherwise enthusiastic event. When the short video clip about galamsey was shown as a prelude, it nearly drew tears to drench the sublime faces of the audience. It was as if they were watching the funeral rites of the mortal remains of the future of mother Ghana. It was pathetic, though!  

 

Complex

 

On Monday, April 3, 2017, that is, a day before the launch, the Daily Graphic carried a banner headline: “Galamsey menace complex – But we will deal with it”. The headline was illustrated with an action picture of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

 

The opening paragraph of the said story on page three of the paper was attributed to the President who said: “The Government will soon roll out a well-thought-out strategy to deal with the menace of illegal mining in the country.”

 

The President described illegal mining as a “complex phenomenon with wide spread interests and forces which required a comprehensive policy and legislation to deal with.”

 

In this write-up, I will not only concur with the President that “galamsey is a complex phenomenon” but I will also cite at least one example of illegal mining in some other parts of the world like Mongolia and provide a guideline prepared by a US-based organization about how to find some solutions to illegal mining challenges.


As Ghanaian authorities may pick some ideas from the Mongolian experience to ensure sustainable development of our beloved country. United Nations defines sustainable development as “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  What galamsey is doing to our farm lands, forest and water bodies cannot guarantee sustainable development of our posterity.


Meanwhile, the Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Mrs. Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, merits a national award of the Star of the Volt, or even a noble prize for designating 14 special courts across the country to independently handle all galamsey related offences. This is unprecedented in illegal mining history in Ghana. BRAVO, Madam!

 

Television images of polluted rivers like Pra River, Ankobra River, Birim River, and Tano River being shown as part of the campaigns were as shocking as mind boggling. The newspaper stories of galamsey with graphic pictures and cartoons of some perpetrators of the illegal mining were very, very effective. The unexpected angry reactions from some diplomatic quarters and the call on Government to guide and coach the media how to do their jobs was laughable.


Diplomatic problems of galamsey  

 

A research has shown that apart from ‘socio-economic, politico-cultural, safety/security and environmental problems of galamsey’, one major headache galamsey was posing to Ghana was ‘diplomatic.’ This finding was confirmed since the media coalition embarked on the fight against galamsey campaigns.


The first evidence was what Ghana’s Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng told the media on the day of the launch itself. On that day, the renowned heart surgeon disclosed that he went to Cote d’Ivoire on a different mission, only to be ambushed by the angry Ivorian media to explain to them why Ghana was polluting rivers and water bodies in their country through illegal mining.  “They (the Ivorians) find it difficult to even treat the water to make it wholesome, and this is bad for us as a country because it paints a bad image about us,” he lamented.


The second evidence was a letter purported to have been fired by the Chinese Mission in Ghana on the illegal mining menace in the country. Media reports had it that the Chinese Mission in Ghana had issued a strongly-worded letter to Ghana’s Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu, expressing anger about how Ghana was dealing with the issue at stake.


The alleged diplomatic “note verbale” reads in part: (…) “It will be extremely harmful to the bilateral relations between the two countries if there are  reports of a casualty during the arrest of Chinese involved in illegal mining in Ghana.”  Really? How many Chinese illegal miners who are poisoning rivers and water bodies have suffered any casualty in Ghana?


Is the Chinese Mission in Ghana aware of the number of Ghanaian casualties who perish on daily basis in galamsey pits? As recently as April 10, 2017, there were media reports that seven Ghanaians were killed in galamsey pits in the Upper East Region through explosion in the mines.  Can the Chinese Mission help prevent Ghanaian casualties so that bilateral relations between the two friendly nations would not be harmed?


Again, the Chinese Mission must be fair to Ghanaian authorities in that it is not illegal Chinese miners alone who are being arrested or deported. Several West African citizens engaged in galamsey too, are being arrested because the laws of the land do not allow foreigners to engage in small scale mining. This sector is solely reserved for Ghanaian citizens. Even then citizens who indulge in illegality are being arrested and prosecuted according to law.  


But the fact that some foreign missions would put diplomacy aside and threaten the sovereignty of Ghana based on mere media reports is an indication that the media war against galamsey is doing the trick. Aluta continua.


Illegal Gold Mining in Mongolia

 

In Mongolia, illegal gold mining is said to be very pervasive. Mongolians call it “ninjas” as ‘galamsey” in Ghana. It the menace in that country is said to be driven by lack of opportunity, so tens of thousands of Mongolians, including children are engaged in illegal mining, “often in extreme harsh and dangerous conditions…”


A strategy adopted by the Mongolian Government was to make it clear that all valuable minerals belong to the state. "Gold, like other valuable minerals, is a state resource that should be reinvested in the country”. What is the state position in Ghana?


“More job opportunities for the youth must be created through education, so that dependence on mining is lessened. And we must try to prevent foreigners from taking our raw materials.” Can Ghana learn any lesson from Mongolia? Here is the source of this document for Ghanaian authorities to access it for further details.
 Source: http://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/article/1939514/winners-and-losers-mongolias-mining-gold-rushUS-based organization


A US-based international organization called Inclusive Development International has published a document titled: Safeguarding People and the Environment in Chinese Investment. It reads:

 

“China has become one of the most important sources of foreign investment in the world. Chinese companies play various roles in overseas projects, from research and design, to construction, development and operation. Chinese financial institutions make many overseas projects possible by providing loans, foreign currency, insurance and equity investments.


“This investment brings with it potential benefits, but also human rights, social and environmental risks (emphasis mine).  Communities impacted by Chinese investments, and the civil society groups that seek to support them, often encounter difficulties obtaining project information, communicating with developers and financiers, and raising concerns or complaints. In response to this situation, State institutions, industry groups and an increasing number of Chinese companies and financiers have begun to adopt environmental and social standards for their overseas investments.


“This guide explains the key actors involved in Chinese overseas investment and describes the environmental and social standards and guidelines that apply…” Again, I hereby provide the source for concerned Ghanaian authorities to access for details.


Source: www.inclusivedevelopment.net/resources/publications/

 

Therefore, the Ghanaian media cannot stand and stare while some greedy present generations are compromising the survival of future generations of our only country on the face of the Earth.

 

 

The author works with Information Services Department (ISD) in Accra. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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