‘I will free all galamsey prisoners if I win 2020 polls’ – Mahama
The 2020 NDC presidential candidate has promised amnesty for all Ghanaians jailed for illegal mining, locally called ‘galamsey’.
Mr John Dramani Mahama said he would ensure that such convicts are integrated into the society if he is successful in his bid to return to power, the Jubilee House.
Mr Mahama said if the NPP government could discontinue criminal proceedings against Chinese galamsey queenpin En Huang, aka Aisha, then citizens arrested for the same offence should receive amnesty.
A “Chinese woman, known as a galamsey queen was not arrested and imprisoned. As for her, the government said she should go back to her country, and she has been left free to go” he addressed the people of Odum-Banso in the Western Region.
“When the NDC comes into power, citizens who were arrested because of galamsey will be given amnesty to return to their families,” he emphasised. “I believe they have shown remorse for any law they flouted so we will release them and give them another chance.”
He said the NDC would not operate based on favouritism where certain figures of the party would be allowed to operate galamsey concessions while ordinary citizens are stopped.
He accused the government of distributing to cronies, the excavators seized during the clampdown on illegal mining.
An NDC government “will ensure that we return ceased excavators to their owners”, he promised.
Mr Mahama said his government would school ‘galamseyers’ on sustainable mining at the University of Mining and Technology (UMaT) to curtail degradation of concessions.
He disclosed that an afforestation programme would be inclusive in the intervention to ensure enough vegetation cover at mining areas.
The NDC presidential candidate asked the residents to consider ‘the retrogression in their lives’ under the current administration and vote accordingly for the NDC.
According to him, the NPP has failed on its promise to give each constituency, $1million. Mahama argued that the area should have gotten $4m in the fourth year of the NPP which should be capable of fixing their roads without complaints from the chief.
He asked the electorate to reject those who make promises but fail to fulfil after being voted into power.
He reiterated his promise for a free primary healthcare cover for Ghanaians.
He said some companies had shown a commitment to implement work-and-pay schemes for motorcyclists to be rolled out on the back of the promise to legalise Okada.
Galamsey and Aisha connection
The Akufo-Addo government embarked on an anti-galamsey drive in 2017 following a media campaign to end illegal mining which had destroyed the environment.
A ban was placed on all forms of small-scale mining by the government, which lasted almost two years.
An Inter-ministerial Committee on illegal mining (IMCIM) was constituted to look into the matter and propose solutions that included plans to register, train, and streamline activities of the small-scale miners.
A task force codenamed ‘Operation Vanguard’ drawn from the police and military was also implemented to clamp down on recalcitrant miners leading to the confiscation of hundreds of excavators and other mining equipment.
Several dredging machines known as ‘Chanfan’ used for alluvial mining on rivers and other water bodies were also destroyed in the process.
Aisha and four of her accomplices were arrested in May 2017 by officials of the Ghana Immigration Service in a raid at Bopotenten in the Ashanti Region.
She was arraigned, but the state later applied to discontinue the case.
She was deportation in December 2018.
In April 2019, Senior Minister Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, who was speaking at a town hall meeting abroad, defended the deportation of the Chinese woman, saying: “Putting that lady [Aisha Huang] in jail in Ghana is not going to solve your economic problems. It is not going to make you or me happy, that’s not important.
This was after a question by a Ghanaian who was part of the audience.
Later, President Nana Akufo-Addo has described the deportation of the woman as an error on the part of the government.
At a forum at Princeton University during his visit to the United States of America on Friday, 20 September 2019, Mr Akufo-Addo said: “I think the decision to deport Aisha Huang, in hindsight, was a mistake and that is why that process and procedure is being stopped.”