Information Minister, Mustapha Abdul Hamid Tuesday placed the full weight of government behind the Media Coalition Against Galamsey (#StopGalamsey), saying that the government has no excuse not to put the menace down.
Hamid, special guest speaker at the launch of the #StopGalamsey Movement, a coalition of media houses, owners, regulators and practitioners supported by key civil society organisations determined to see off the challenge of illegal mining and the threat it poses to the very future of the country, said given the enthusiastic embrace and common voice of the Ghanaian media in this fight, there can be no looking back.
“Now this government really, has no excuse not to do the right things to stamp out this menace that threatens our future,” he said, explaining that it was refreshing that the same media that in times past rose to the defence of wrong doers when governments had taken the drastic but necessary decisions to right the wrongs in the society, are today the vanguards.
“I am very excited that for the first time in our republican history, what makes the headlines and what dominates discussions on radio and television is not sensationalism. These days when you pick the newspapers – every single day – and if you tune-in to your radio every single day, it is not about somebody has raped somebody or some minister has stolen some money or the president’s daughter kicked somebody and etc. Every radio station, every television station, every newspaper headline is talking about the threat to our future. Every newspaper is talking about how illegal mining threatens to make us extinct. And that is refreshing, that is exciting because the media basically is the mirror of society – you reflect what it is that is important for our nation, and therefore the fact that these matters are what dominate our headlines and our discussion programmes shows that this nation is united at this point in the effort to rescue our country and to rescue future generations and to preserve our country.
“Now that is important. It is also important because often times when governments, and I mean governments since the Fourth Republic, take decisions that are seemingly drastic but which are important for preserving our lives, often times it is the media that comes at government, and says that oh, but these people will lose their livelihoods, for example demolitions. Over the years we’ve all agreed that our country is quite unsightly but often times when governments seek to do demolitions, the media comes at them: oh, but these are people who are making a livelihood by the street corners and these slums, and-so-on-and-so-forth, so preserve their livelihoods.
“Now even though there are a few people, and we are not unanimous on the numbers – people say that they are about 200,000 people who are engaged in galamsey, some say that collectively about three million people benefit from galamsey – whatever the numbers are, it is very clear that the people who benefit from galamsey are in the tiniest minority in our country if we are to put our population at 27 million, and even (if) three million people are benefiting, it is very clear that we cannot sacrifice the lives of 24 million people for three million people. And so this time the media is not saying that people will lose their livelihood so let’s not clamp down on galamsey. Which means that now this government really, has no excuse not to do the right thing to stamp out this menace that threatens our future.
“And you have heard the president speak over the weekend. He is determined to be referred to as the president who stamped out galamsey, who rescued our country and who restored the future of our nation, and the fact that you are with him and you offer him the support by this coalition, I believe will strengthen his hand in doing what we all agree must now be done to stamp this out.”
Several other speakers representing stakeholder orgainsations from government and civil society, all pledged relentless support for the campaign.
The Media Coalition Against Galamsey (#StopGalamsey) comprises the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), the New Times Corporation, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) and the Private Newspapers Publishers Association of Ghana (PRINPAG) and supported by the Christian Council of Ghana.
The coalition announced an eight-member Steering Committee to see to the sustained coordination and implementation of activities until galamsey is stopped and sanity prevails at all mining fronts.
Membership of the steering committee
- Dr Kwame Akuffo Anoff-Ntow, the Director General of GBC
- Nii Laryea Sowah, PRINPAG President
- Ms Carol Annang, the Managing Director of New Times Corporation
- Mr Kenneth Ashigbey, Managing Director GCGL
- Chief Dr. P. A. Crystal-Djirackor, GIBA
- Rev. Dr Kwabena Opuni Frimpong, the General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana
- Mr Akwasi Agyemang, the President GIBA
- Mr Affail Monney, President of GJA
- One million signature petition to President Akufo-Addo, the Speaker of Parliament and Chief Justice urging them to take action
- Get all relevant stakeholders to buy-in to the campaign and pledge their actions – politicians, chiefs, heads of security agencies, heads of academia, and the media as well as everybody who can help in the effort to cause a change
- Bring Ghana to a lockdown, and get all of us – newspapers, radio and TV to highlight the dangers of galamsey. Working with various Ghanaian websites which will have Let’s Stop Galamsey landing pages to draw attention to the fact that this fight needs all hands on deck
- Get all churches to preach to their congregations that galamsey must be stopped
- Get all mosques to urge Speaker of Parliament
- Get all traditional councils to join in the fray
- Promote the speedy trial of suspects by projecting trials and judgements and name and shame officials who put impediments in the way of justice or who turn out accomplices in the galamsey business
- Hold townhall meetings at various locations where galamsey is practiced – Tarkwa in the Western Region, Dunkwa-on-Offin in the Central Region, Kyebi in the Eastern region and other areas in the Brong Ahafo, Northern, Upper East, Upper West and Ashanti regions – to bring the message to the people at the grassroots that by galamsey, they are dying slowly
- Embark on governance dialogues with all key stakeholders for solutions
- Investigative stories to name and shame ‘the big fishes’ involved.
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