The Executive Director of the Centre for Social Impact, Richard Ellimah has described National Democratic Congress’ flagbearer, John Mahama’s campaign promise to release incarcerated illegal miners as unfortunate and dangerous.
According to him, it would have been wiser for the aspiring candidate to propose an amendment to the law that would seek the formalizing, proper structuring and growth of the small scale mining industry rather than releasing illegal miners back into the system.
“I think it is unfortunate. I thought these illegal miners were jailed under a law. I remember the law was amended to provide stiffer punishment for illegal mining. And these guys who are serving time in jail were arrested based on the amended portions on the law.
“And so if there is anything to change I would have rather preferred that Mr John Mahama will talk about changing the law or amending the law so that in future some of these things would not recur.
“But to make a blanket statement that ‘when I come to power I’m coming to free all of them’ that for me is a very dangerous statement and we need to take a second look at it.”
Mr Ellimah stated that Mr Mahama’s proposal only raises more questions about the way forward when it comes to the fight against galamsey in the country.
According to him, “are we going to then say that all those who have been incarcerated as a result of illegal mining are going to be released including those in the future who are going to be incarcerated?
“So we need to go back to the law and we need to look at it from a broader perspective,” he said.
Mr Ellimah said when the law is amended to promote growth and proper structuring of the small scale mining sector, it would go a long way to prevent such controversies in future elections.
“We need to do a broader review of the small scale mining sector including the legal regime so that we can avoid some of these controversies whenever we are entering into an election year.”