Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Wenesday, April 12, 2017
An appeal by the Chinese to the government to ‘guide’ the media on what to report in the fight against illegal mining (known in local parlance as galamsey), has incurred the wrath of some Ghanaians.
Platforms such as the social media, are replete with furious statements following the request which many have interpreted as gagging or restricting the media.
The fight against galamsey – an occupation which has been dominated by foreigners, mostly Chinese - has heightened since January and the coalition formed by the media has taken the fight a notch higher.
However, the Chinese Embassy in Accra appears uncomfortable with the way the media are parading the Chinese in the headlines and has written to the government to ‘guide’ the media in relation to the emerging issues.
According to the embassy, the campaign mounted to stop galamsey has been targeted at its nationals and accused the media of bias.
"The Chinese side is very concerned about this unhealthy tendency. We hope the Ghanaian government will pay due attention to this situation, take necessary action to stop such things from happening," the letter, addressed to the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, indicated.
Clear Cut Matters
"The Chinese government attaches great importance to the illegal mining issue. The position of the Chinese government on this issue is consistent and clear-cut,” it said, adding, “The Chinese Embassy is firmly opposed to the involvement of the Chinese citizens in illegal mining in Ghana and supports the efforts taken by the Ghanaian government to tackle the illegal mining issue within the legal framework.
“The Chinese mission however, considers the media campaign and efforts to fight galamsey, a deviation from what they think should be the framework in fighting galamsey in Ghana.”
"We sincerely hope that the Ghanaian government shall take responsibility of guiding the media and requesting them not to publicise such defamatory reports or stories against Chinese officials and the Chinese government,” it underscored.
According to the embassy, if that was done, it would “help create a sound environment for our joint efforts to address this issue and the continuous development of our bilateral relations.”
But the Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) - a media rights group – has called the bluff of the Chinese, saying that they can’t dictate to Ghana.
“China is to Chinese; Ghana is to Ghanaians. Relations between the two countries are very important but such relations must be based on mutual respect. No amount of grants can create a single river. A $100 billion grant cannot create river Pra or Ankobra. And no amount of funds can equal the benefits of river Ankobra, Pra, etc to past, present and future generations. Let no one threaten us in our own country for seeking to preserve our country. Grants don't create rivers,” Sulemana Braimah fumed.
The sector Minister, John Peter Amewu, said on Joy FM that the government will not be blackmailed by any group and pledged an unwavering commitment against galamsey, which has reached alarming levels.
The minister has already given a three-week ultimatum for all illegal miners to leave the sites and has pledged that in the course of the three weeks, he would embark on a campaign toward educating the miners on the harmful effects of galamsey - which has already polluted almost every water body in the country and destroyed the entire environment.
After the three-week deadline, the minister has promised to move in with a task force to get rid of all illegal miners and reclaim the lands.
Last week, in the heat of the discussion, a former minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Inusah Fuseini, dropped a bombshell when he said the then Chinese Ambassador to Ghana made every effort to frustrate the ministry’s fight against illegal mining.
Inusah said, “He (Ambassador) offered me a scholarship but I refused.”
He said he sensed that the Ambassador’s overtures were all part of the strategy to get him to relax his fight against galamsey operators, which involved the arrests and deportation of foreigners, including some Chinese.
According to Fusieni, who is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale Central, when the Ambassador found him unyielding, the relationship between Ghana and China took a nosedive.
“There were some changes in China’s relations with Ghana,” he said, adding, “When I started the operation to clean the small-scale mining sector of illegalities, they reviewed the visa regime for Ghanaians… before you go to China, your application had to be sent to China before you got approval. It was also now difficult for government officials to immediately obtain visas to go to China.”