Gold Mafia: Ghana, and the galamsey curse
Gold has been one of the core sources of foreign exchange for Ghana for a very long time, especially after independence when Ghanaians took over the political administration of the country. But available undeniable evidence strongly suggests that Ghana as a country and its citizens are not the main beneficiaries of the gold that is mined from the country.
The Al Jazeera Investigative Unit did an undercover investigation recently focusing on Zimbabwe and South Africa – but Ghana was, as to be expected not left out. The country featured strongly in the four-episode video investigation. It is, therefore, inconceivable that any digging into the illegal gold trade anywhere in Africa would not find a link to Ghana, the second largest producer of gold on the continent after South Africa.
While considering the overarching impact of the activities of the gold smugglers and money launderers caught telling their own stories in the Al Jazeera videos, in Ghana, the country for many years has been struggling with illegal gold mining activities known as galamsey. Galamsey has been going on in Ghana for many years, but in recent times, the scale, extent and depth of galamsey has never been seen before.
Indeed, the debilitating part of the entire galamsey debauchery is the tacit involvement of state and public officials. Several investigative reports have caught some on camera and on tape engaging in the act, but they have denied, and it’s hard to find any evidence of sanctioning.
Indeed, the debilitating part of the entire galamsey debauchery is the tacit involvement of state and public officials. Several investigative reports have caught some on camera and on tape engaging in the act, but they have denied, and it’s hard to find any evidence of sanctioning. The persistence of individuals and groups acting with impunity only confirms the implicit involvement and protection of people connected to the State or government.
Some foreigners, conniving with citizens have joined the fray to continue to decimate the land and poison rivers, lakes, streams and farms in search of the precious metal.
Despite government’s loud promises and even actions, to deal with the menace, it has not declined, instead it has increased and intensified including in protected national forest reserves.
Unfortunately, some journalists and state security officers have fallen victim in the perceived fight to control or stop galamsey. Some have been assaulted, injured, and even killed.
Despite the harrowing specter that galamsey has become, state institutions with all the resources at their disposal to act decisively, have rather continued to express an increasing sense of helplessness and even nonchalance.
But as galamsey continues to ravage communities, pollute water bodies, farmlands and destroy forest reserves, there is still no clear-cut way forward as to how to manage the threat.
While it is obvious the practice of galamsey cannot be stopped, it is possible to find good examples elsewhere of how some countries have managed to bring the situation under manageable and accountable control. But that can only happen if the government in power has the political will and decency to act.
By Emmanuel K Dogbevi
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