In a bid to fight illegal mining popularly called galamsey in Ghana, ex-president John Mahama amended the mining law, by criminalizing illegal small scale mining and proffering arrests and prosecution of offenders.
He, however, suspended the anti-galamsey taskforce which he set up to arrest illegal small-scale miners and prosecutors.
At the end of his tenure in 2016, illegal small-scale mining had assumed alarming proportions, destroying the country’s forest, polluting rivers and degrading the environment.
That is the summary of ex-president John Mahama’s fight against galamsey, Editor in Chief of the New Crusading Guide Malik Kweku Baako Jnr has said.
He was contributing to the controversy triggered on Saturday by ex-president while addressing supporters of the National Democratic Congress during the Unity Walk in Kumasi.
Kweku Baako Jnr
Ex-president John Mahama had criticized the government’s anti galamsey fight describing it as ineffective.
According to him, the use of soldiers and police personnel to chase, shoot at illegal miners was a strategy he used while in government but that did not work.
Rather than militarizing the fight against galamsey, the ex-president said the Nana Akufo-Addo led government must be interested in providing alternative livelihoods for those engaged in galamsey.
He also added that his government had introduced new laws in the fight against galamsey and urged his successor government to follow the roadmap.
His comments have not gone down well with many, particularly spokespersons of government.
Anti-Galamsey taskforce under Akufo-Addo
The governing New Patriotic Party at a press conference said the ex-president’s comments were opportunistic, repugnant and unbecoming of a statesman.
Addressing the matter on Peace FM’s Kokrookoo programme on Wednesday, Malik Kweku Baako Jnr said the ex-president could perhaps have communicated better on the subject matter.
Subjecting ex-president Mahama’s comments to critical scrutiny, Malik Baako said there was the element of the use of military force in both Mahama and Akufo-Addo’s fight against galamsey except that the latter’s has been on the wider scale and appears to be more successful.
According to Kweku Baako Jnr, key officials in the erstwhile NDC government who led the fight against galamsey, Mahama Ayariga and Inusah Fuseini, had publicly confessed the taskforce operation had been unsuccessful.
The public confessions led to the suspension of the activities of the anti-galamsey taskforce.
The ace journalist said the ex-president at a meeting with the Okyenhene in 2014 agreed that the anti-galamsey taskforce had failed and thus announced its suspension.
Shortly after its suspension, the ex-president led the amendment of the mining law to make it criminal to engage in illegal mining.
He amended the Minerals Law Act 703 to Act 900 which gave the powers to security personnel to seize illegal mining equipment, arrest and prosecute persons engaged in illegal mining.
Kweku Baako Jnr did not understand how the president intends to execute the new law if he had suspended the taskforce whose duty it was to arrest the illegal miners.
He also demanded to know if the ex-president did anything at all about alternative livelihood programme he so fondly talked about.
His verdict was that the ex-president and his government did little or nothing at all about that policy which led to the escalation of galamsey activities prior to the coming into power of the Nana Akufo-Addo administration.
He was however convinced that the politicization of galamsey activities is a common feature of both the NPP and NDC administrations and also indicted the police administration of failing act even though they have in their possession evidence of wrongdoing by some powerful persons who are believed to be engaged in illegal mining.
A member of the panel, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo was unhappy with the level of criticism against the ex-president.
According to him, John Mahama’s comments were harmless, honest and did not understand why he will be insulted by his critics.
He charged the Natural Resources Minister John Peter Amewu to render an unqualified apology to the ex-president for calling him a conman.