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Elections won’t affect galamsey fight — Govt



The government has stated that it will not adopt a loose-guard attitude towards the fight against illegal mining for political capital as the country heads to the December 7 polls.

It said although this year’s elections were a crucial one, the government would not be coerced to take its feet off the gas in the galamsey fight.

The Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, George Mireku Duker, who gave that assurance, added that while the government remained committed to tackling the illegal mining menace, it would take collective action by stakeholders at the community level to halt it.

“This year is an election year alright, but we will work as expected of us; so let no one think that because we need power, we will allow them to mine illegally.”

“Communities must be up in arms to say we are protecting our environment.

If we do that to support the government’s effort, Ghanaians will benefit,” Mr Duker told the Daily Graphic in interview.

There are concerns about the alleged involvement of politicians and politically exposed persons in galamsey in the country, with some people suggesting that the illegality persisted because of the benefit “powerful” persons got from it.

In May last year, a former Executive Director of the Forestry Commission, Oppon Sasu, revealed that election years recorded the highest galamsey activities compared with other years.

He stated that there was evidence that the country witnessed an increase in galamsey in 2012, 2016 and 2020, which were all election years.

In an interview with the Daily Graphic, he attributed the development to the lack of political will on the part of politicians to clamp down on the menace during election years and the involvement of politicians in galamsey.

He had also said the active involvement of politicians and politically exposed individuals in the illegal gold trade had helped to entrench the destructive activity in the nation’s forest reserves.

Mr Sasu added that during the past three election years, politicians either relaxed the clampdown on galamsey or simply looked away to profit from the proceeds of the illegal trade to support their political campaigns.

No retreat

However, Mr Duker stressed that the fight against galamsey would not be downplayed simply because it was an election year.

“I have been working since I was appointed as deputy minister and put in charge of mining.

 I will continue to work as a Ghanaian entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the mining sector and the environment.

 I will not say that because it is an election year, I will renege on that responsibility,” he added.

Mr Duker said the overly politicisation of the galamsey fight was counterproductive and needed to be stopped to ensure that all stakeholders played their part to help protect the environment.

He observed that although President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was leading the charge as the president of the country to clamp down on galamsey, it was not his sole responsibility to do so.

“If Nananom, stakeholders and community members agree that we are not going to allow anyone to destroy our rivers, no one can do that.

If someone goes to mine in the Pra River, I will not know; but community members will know as soon as they get close to the river.

If we decide to be patriotic to this country, the canker of galamsey will be resolved,” he said.

Since 2017, the government has rolled out a raft of measures, including an almost two-year ban on small-scale mining and the deployment of the military, to help clamp down on galamsey.

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