The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has accused the government of sabotaging efforts to address the menace of illegal mining, popularly called ‘galamsey’ in the country.
According to the party, the recent alleged disappearance of about 500 excavators and other machinery seized from galamsey operators by the Operation Vanguard team, the taskforce set up to fight illegal mining, was not only an embarrassment to the government but a testament to the government’s failure to stop galamsey.
At a press conference in Accra yesterday, the National Communications Officer of the party, Mr Sammy Gyamfi, accused the government of intentionally kicking illegal miners and legitimate small-scale miners out of business in order for government officials to take over the venture to enable them to fund the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).
According to him, Operation Vanguard and the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) were calculated schemes by the Akufo-Addo government to drive out galamseyers from business for government officials to take over the illegal job.
He said the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hajia Alima Mahama, and the then Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John-Peter Amewu, had at different times accused some Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and other senior government officials of directly engaging in galamsey or frustrating efforts at addressing the menace.
Mr Gyamfi explained that the failure of President Akufo-Addo to identify the supposed MMDCEs involved in galamsey and punish them appropriately had emboldened other people to go into the illegal activity.
“He (President Akufo-Addo) sees no thievery and evil when it comes to corruption of his appointees,” the communications officer said, adding that “the fight against galamsey was a ploy, a grand scheme for the government to take over the galamsey business”.
He said the growing corruption under the Akufo-Addo-led administration had made many foreign diplomats in the country openly speak about it.
He explained that the involvement of the party’s Central Regional Vice Chairman, Mr Horace Ekow Ewusi, in the disappearance of about 500 seized excavators and the unfolding events clearly showed how the government had failed to fight galamsey.
“This is how low we have sunk as a country as a result of the greed and selfishness of the ruling NPP and corrupt Akufo-Addo government,” he said, adding: “In fact, these latest developments are a vindication of our long-held position that President Akufo-Addo’s so-called fight against illegal mining is a ruse, calculated to appropriate the galamsey trade for NPP and government functionaries.”
He cautioned that individuals involved in the galamsey menace would be punished when power changed hands.
“All those involved in the stealing of the 500 excavators and the rot that has engulfed Akufo-Addo’s fight against galamsey must know that the day of accountability and reckoning is fast approaching,” he said.
On the Airbus saga, Mr Gyamfi said the issue lacked merit and was purely business infractions by the company’s staff.
According to him, no government official had committed any crime or received any bribes as being alleged.
“A careful reading of the approved judgments of the Crown Court of Southwark and the District Court of Columbia on the matter shows that the entire case is about legal infractions by employees and agents of Airbus and nothing more,” he explained.
According to Mr Gyamfi, the approved judgments of the Crown Court of Southwark and the District Court of Columbia indicated that Airbus, on their own accord, engaged intermediaries or hired agents to help them sell military aircraft to Ghana between the years 2009 and 2015.
He said while the use of agents or business partners was common practice with multinational companies, the approved judgements held that Airbus failed to follow the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) rules in appointing their business intermediaries.
“The approved judgments further found that payment by Airbus of success-based commission to their intermediaries was in excess of the agreed five per cent commission as captured in the transaction agreement,” he stated.
Mr Gyamfi said “whereas there have been claims that success-based commissions were paid to agents of Airbus with the intent to induce or reward improper favour by the said Government Official 1, it is instructive to note that there is no indication either in the approved judgments of the Crown Court of Southwark or the District Court of Columbia that any such inducement took place.”
He said the haste with which the NPP was pointing accusing fingers at the NDC was “pathetic and most reckless,” since the report did not cite any NDC official of having engaged in any corrupt act in relation to the Airbus saga.
“No serious-minded person would draw conclusions based on conjecture and wilful misinterpretation of the approved judgment of the UK Crown Court,” Mr Gyamfi stated.