…Over Anti-Galamsey Fight
The Ashanti Regional Minister who recently made headlines in the wake of revelations that Chinese illegal miner, Asia Huang, had been pampered with diplomatic courtesies in his region is in the news again.
This time, Mr. Simon Osei-Mensah is said to have incurred a reprimand at the Flagstaff House for sabotaging the President’s campaign against galamsey, aka illegal mining.
Insiders at the seat of government tell The Republic that Mr. Osei-Mensah was last week given a dressing down by the President after he had been summoned by the Presidency.
According to word, he had been given an earful by President Akufo-Addo for watering down the government’s clampdown on galamsey in the region by instigating galamseyers who laid claims to mining licenses to go ahead and rape the environment in spite of the government ban.
Earlier in that week, the Ashanti Regional minister had told Fox fm that government’s ban on illegal mining was preclusive of small scale miners and those who have mining licenses.
“Galamsey is different from small scale mining. Some people are into small scale mining, medium scale mining and some large scale 8mining. When we talk of illegal mining that should be stopped, when we talk of galamsey, we are referring to illegal mining and so if someone is into large scale mining it does not mean that the person has to stop, if a person is into medium scale mining it does not mean that the person has to stop. It is those who operate without license that are supposed to be affected by the ban,” Mr. Osei-Mensah had said.
He had also encouraged those who felt they had licenses to endear themselves to government and snitch on those who do not have licenses to law enforcement agencies.
“If one feels he wants to do it legally to help government, I have no problem. What they probably should do is to give leads on who the illegal miners are because they are with them.”
The Ashanti Regional minister’s statement is said to have sparked anger at the Flagstaff House, even as it sparked a resurgence of galamsey in the region which is one of two most notorious regions for galamseying.
Some stopped illegal miners are said to have consequently organized themselves and readied to resist law enforcement agents.
The situation was said to have led to the Flagstaff House summoning the regional minister to Accra for a presidential dressing down.
Simon Osei Antwi was only recently in the news when it came to light that Asia Huang, a Chinese illegal miner, who had been arrested and arraigned before court for galamsey, had enjoyed diplomatic courtesies in the region.
At the confirmation of the Mayor of Kumasi, Osei Assibey Antwi, at the Ashanti Regional Coordinating Council, Ms Huang had been in attendance as a guest of honor.
She had been driven to the program in an official convoy.
Following from the dressing down over the comments on galamsey at the Flagstaff House, the President was said to have dispatched Lands Minister, John Peter Amewu, to the Ashanti Region to meet the angry galamseyers and impress on them to hold off a return to the illegal gold rush for six months.
Mr. Amewu is said to have told the galamseyers that the government is working to sort out things so that those with mining licenses can be allowed to return to digging for gold.
Mr. Amewu’s promise, which is a u-turn from the government’s move to totally clamp down on the environmental rape that is destroying water bodies is said to have led to the illegal miners grudgingly backing down.
Insiders however say that Mr. Amewu’s promise was only a cover story and that what he actually meant was that the government was going to sort out the names of the ruling party’s supporters involved in galamsey and issue licenses to those who do not have to allow them to return to galamsey.
By elimination-by-rough-tactics, illegal miners believed to be pro-NDC would be refused licenses to mine.
The alleged moves by the government come at a time of national hue and cry against galamsey.
In early April, this year, the government had started a clampdown on galamsey, amidst warning by the Ghana Water Company that if galamsey is not stopped the rate of destruction of water bodies would constrain Ghana to import water by 2030.
With the media stridently leading the charge, the government had been left with no choice but to undertake the clampdown, starting with a three week ban in April.
However, the government’s actions have been seen as insincere, as President Akufo-Addo is on record to have promised during the 2016 election campaign to never stop galamsey if he was elected president.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/ Fiifi Samuels