President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has reiterated his commitment to working hand-in-hand with chiefs, traditional rulers and all stakeholders in the fight against galamsey.
According to President Akufo-Addo: “It is obvious that if we are to win the fight, you and I have to take the lead and collaborate closely to do so. That is why I am here today”.
Addressing the National House of Chiefs on Wednesday 5th October 2022, the president noted that eighty percent (80%) of Ghana’s land continues to be under the custody of chiefs, whereas the remainder of twenty percent (20%) is held in trust by the president.
What this means, he said, is that ultimately the welfare and state of the land is a joint responsibility of chiefs and the president – although, by statute, minerals in the soil belong to the president in trust for the people.
“Historically, we discharged that responsibility well. Even though for centuries we have been a mining nation, mining did not pose a threat to the health of our environment and water-bodies. The rules that you put in place for mining ensured that the sanctity of our lands remained intact and our water-bodies remained unpolluted. Tragically, in the modern era that is no longer the case. And that is why I have come to you today to talk about how, together, we can repair this dramatic situation,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo indicated that since he took office on 7th January 2017, he has made it a central feature of his presidency to lead the efforts to rid the country of the galamsey menace, with a firm commitment made in his inaugural speech on the matter.
“It has not been easy, it has not been popular, and we have not got the immediate results that I was looking for. Indeed, in the last elections of 2020 my stance on the issue cost my party and I significant losses in the mining communities. It turned out that my statement that I was putting my presidency on the line in the fight against galamsey was neither bombast nor recklessness. It was the simple truth,” he said.
The president continued: “We have tried many initiatives, including that of the Community Mining Scheme and establishing a new legal regime for dealing with the perpetrators of this phenomenon – which has imposed severe sanctions on those Ghanaians and foreigners convicted of illegal mining. Still, we have not won the fight”.
In seeking further assistance from the National House of Chiefs in addressing the galamsey phenomenon, he noted that taking partisan political interests out of the fight against galamsey is one way forward.
“It can only succeed if it is a truly national battle that no one seeks to exploit for political gain, as we saw in the last election. The progress of our country depends on all of us, all citizens of Ghana, all Fellow Ghanaians, pulling together to defeat this existential threat to our future,” he added.
Reiterating the stance of government, President Akufo-Addo noted that: “We are not against mining, but we cannot accept mining in a manner that risks destroying our country. Our nation has always been a mining nation. Indeed, in the 15th century when the first Europeans, the Portuguese, came to our shores they called the first European-influenced town Elmina – meaning ‘the mine’ in Portuguese – because from their ships as they approached our shores that is the activity they saw our people engaged in. It is not surprising that in colonial times we were called the Gold Coast”.
He thus asked all Ghanaians to join hands with him in the fight against illegal mining, in order to bring an end to devastation of the Ghanaian landscape and pollution of our water-bodies.
“We have to win the fight to keep our environment clean and protect our heritage for our descendants, as you did in the past,” he added.