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Fear of losing votes impeding progress in galamsey fight – CDD Fellow

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Dr. Osae Kwapong, a research fellow at the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), has expressed concern that political sensitivity is hindering the fight against illegal mining, known locally as galamsey. 

His comments come in the wake of controversial statements made by Ernest Frimpong, the NPP parliamentary candidate for Wassa Amenfi East, who allegedly encouraged miners to confront law enforcement officials demanding bribes.

In an interview on The Big Issue on Channel One TV, Dr. Kwapong highlighted the political delicacy surrounding the galamsey issue, especially as the 2024 general elections approach. 

He believes that the fear of losing votes has led to a cautious approach in addressing the matter, which may have influenced Mr. Frimpong’s remarks.

“It feels like, because of that narrative, as we go into the 2024 general elections, there seems to be this overly political sensitivity to how you treat the issue of galamsey and the kind of promises or things to say in terms of galamsey. The last thing you will want to do is say anything about this issue that, in the minds of the candidate, may hurt his chances of winning.

“So that is what, I believe, brought some of these comments. But the biggest thing in the fight against Galamsey is really how you deal with the politics of it,” he stated.

He went on to say that despite the legal policy framework, continuing to fight to score political points in the fight against illegal mining will undermine the efforts that are being put in place to fight the menace. 

“It just looks like outside of the legal policy framework, it is the politics that is making this thing very difficult. This is because it just seems to be what we call a zero-sum game: no winners, no losers. And if we are going to keep sought-after political points off of this issue and not make excuses for the behaviour of this parliamentary candidate, but that is what is driving it—the overly sensitivity to the galamsey areas and this fear that if we are too strict, we may lose their votes. And we can’t keep thinking about galamsey in terms of who wins and who doesn’t,” he stated. 

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