The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the Eastern Region has accused the government of using the fight against galamsey to scapegoat one of its own, Kate Gyamfua, the Women’s Organiser of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and General Manager of licensed gold mining firm Xtra-Gold, by burning down 16 excavators and one bulldozer belonging to her company.
A statement issued by Mr Darlas Ampomah Williams, Regional Communication Officer of the NDC on Monday, 16 May 2021, said the action of the galamsey fighters, in the case of Ms Gyamfua’s company, is a proxy personal vendetta for publicly calling out the Minister of Roads and Highways, Mr Kwesi Amoako-Atta, who also happens to be the MP for the Atiwa West constituency, for his discriminatory fixing of roads in the region.
“It is public knowledge how Ms Kate Gyamfua has bemoaned the horrible state of other roads in the Eastern Region apart from the hometowns of the President and his cousin, the Roads Minister and personally called him out to act without discrimination”, the statement said.
“This is a few weeks before her company’s equipment were burnt down”, the NDC observed.
It added: “While we may not be interested in such petty internal squabbles, we are concerned that a similar pattern that led to the failure of the initial Operation Vanguard is unfolding”.
The NDC wondered: “Has the supposed fight against galamsey become nepotistic to the extent that perceived critics of Akufo-Addo and his family members are penalised using state-sanctioned operations such as “operation Halt”?”
Xtra-Gold Resources Corp., which is a licensed gold exploration company focused on defining a potentially significant resource on its Kibi Gold Discovery located in the Republic of Ghana, West Africa, accused the anti-galamsey task force of acting in bad faith and violating the law in carrying out the destruction of the company’s mining equipment.
The company has a substantial land position in the Kibi Gold Belt, which exhibits many similar geological features to Ghana’s main gold belt (the Ashanti Belt with over 150 million oz’s of gold discovered), has been the subject of very limited modern exploration activity targeting lode gold deposits as virtually all past gold mining activity and exploration efforts focused on the extensive alluvial gold occurrences in many river valleys.
In a statement, Xtra-Gold Mining Limited said it pays “big money” in terms of taxes and royalties to the government of Ghana and, thus, was disappointed with the anti-galamsey task force’s action, which, it noted, was a violation of the law.
“These unlawful actions are a clear violation of the rule of law,” the company said.
“Our company pays big money royalties, taxes, stool land fees”.
“We are socially responsible, and employ hundreds of local workers”, it noted.
“At the same time that we are paying all these huge taxes, the military is burning millions of dollars of our mining equipment,” the company bemoaned.
On Sunday, 16 May 2021, the anti-galamsey taskforce launched an onslaught at mining sites at Larbikrom, Dompem and Pamen, all in the Atiwa District of the Eastern Region to rid the area of illegal miners.
The NDC, however, observed: “The mining activities of Kate Gyemfua and other national and regional executives are publicly known in the region” and, thus, wondered: “How come only Kate Gyamfua has been a victim? Will such a scapegoating strategy help fight the menace?”
Read the Eastern Regional NDC’s full statement below:
NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS
EASTERN REGIONAL SECRETARIAT
AKUFO-ADDO MUST BE SINCERE IN THE GALAMSEY FIGHT
The menace of illegal mining (galamsey) is in no doubt polluting and destroying our water bodies and forest reserves and, as condemned by the national leadership of the party, the Eastern regional branch of the National Democratic Congress also condemns it in no uncertain terms.
Inasmuch as we condemn galamsey, we also condemn the way and manner in which the new anti-galamsey task force set up by President Akufo-Addo is fighting the menace.
We believe that such a national endeavour should be done in a transparent, accountable and sincere manner, with a visible chain of custody of equipment and other evidence.
For example, the random, irregular burning of excavators found on mining sites by the task force, is not a sustainable way and must cease forthwith.
Such an approach, akin to mob justice, is open to abuses and presents itself as a tool in the hands of powerful political entities in the pursuit of personal vendetta.
For example, it has come to the attention of the Eastern Regional Secretariat of the NDC that the new task force against illegal mining burnt a number of excavators, 1 bulldozer belonging to Xtra-Gold Mining Ltd. at Akyem Akropong in the Atiwa West District.
This is where Hon. Amoako-Atta, the cousin of the President Akufo-Addo and Minister of Roads and Highways is MP.
It is also instructive to note that it has emerged that Ms Kate Gyemfua, the National Women’s Organiser of the NPP, is designated as the General Manager of Xtra-Gold.
It is public knowledge how Ms Kate Gyamfua has bemoaned the horrible state of other roads in the Eastern Region apart from the hometowns of the President and his cousin, the Roads Minister and personally called him out to act without discrimination.
This is a few weeks before her company’s equipment were burnt down.
While we may not be interested in such petty internal squabbles, we are concerned that a similar pattern that led to the failure of the initial Operation Vanguard is unfolding.
A number of questions are being asked:
- The mining activities of Kate Gyemfua and other national and regional executives are publicly known in the region. How come only Kate Gyamfua has been a victim? Will such a scapegoating strategy help fight the menace?
- What happens after the burning of the equipment? Mining activities are socio-material. The equipment don’t automatically move. There are humans who moved them and benefit from the activities. So far, materials are being burnt down, we are yet to see the arrest and prosecution of Ms Kate Gyamfua if, indeed, she and her company are in defiance of presidential directives. When will this happen?
- We have sighted documents from Xtra-Gold that suggests their activities are legit, even as recent as this year. Is this action by the anti-galamsey team part of a conspiracy to undeservedly propitiate “judgment debt” from a deliberate illegality from state actors?
- Has the supposed fight against galamsey become nepotistic to the extent that perceived critics of Akufo-Addo and his family members are penalised using state-sanctioned operations such as “operation Halt”?
This and many lingering questions call for an immediate suspension of the activities of the task force in the region and investigations conducted into this single event to inform a proper operational guide for the taskforce to insulate them from political manipulation.
As it stands now, the current supposed fight is more symbolic than functional and it’s bound to fail just like the previous symbolic attempts.
The President, his officers, family members and NPP party galamsey aficionados are only leveraging the genuine anger of Ghanaians and collective resolve to deal with the menace, to protect their galamsey kingpins, while using a few of them who have fallen out with them, as scapegoats. This must stop immediately!!
Darlas Ampomah Williams
Regional Communication Officer