The Country’s leading mining firm, AngloGold Ashanti, once again came under the spotlight for their disappointing performance at a two day workshop held in Obuasi on Participatory Budgeting for residents of mining communities in the Ashanti Region.
Traditional authorities, Civil Society Organizations and Non Governmental Organizations present at the workshop were unanimous in their condemnation of the country’s oldest mining coy, accusing the firm of taking more but yet giving little to the people on whose lands they have operated for more than a century now.
The workshop also chastised the mining firm for not living up to its social responsibility agenda, having hoodwinked the country’s leadership and traditional authorities into signing questionable deals and amassing profits for its stakeholders most of whom are in abroad.
The program was put together by SHAFT FM, an Obuasi-based radio station in conjunction with Centre for Social Impact Studies (CeSIS), STAR-Ghana and other foreign partners.
It also marked the official launch of a programme dubbed “Yen Sika, Yen Daakye” (Our Money, Our Future), facilitated by SHAFT FM and CeSIS, with support from Department for International Development (DfID), UK Aid, DANIDA, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and European Union, to promote accountability, transparency and responsiveness in all spheres of governance.
The workshop was also to sensitise community members on the budgeting processes of the district assemblies and more importantly, how they can participate in the process, to ensure accountability and transparency in the utilization of revenues accrued from the mineral resources.
PEANUT ROYALTIES FROM AGA
The Chief of Bogobiri Community and a sub-Chief of the Akrokerri Sub-Traditional Council, Rev. Dr. Nana Owusu Akyaw Brempong, who chaired the programme, led the onslaught against AngloGold Ashanti Mining Company, following their recent announcement to suspend operations for two years to enable them embark on Care and Maintenance, leading to the gradual retrenchment of over 6,500 workers of the company.
Rev. Owusu Akyaw, who was livid and frustrated at the absolute lack of regard for the welfare of communities under which the mining firm operates, said all that AngloGold had done in years of their existence had been to embark on image cleansing, through the occasional provision of meagre social amenities to communities and meeting with stakeholders which, he said, did not commensurate with the huge profits gained from their activities.
The Bogobiri Chief noted that traditional rulers in particular have usually come under intense pressure from their subjects “because AngloGold always meets us and make nice promises which they always fail to fulfil, sometimes they even accuse us of being on the payroll of AngloGold all because our people have not seen development in their lives.”
The Chief said apart from the negligible royalties paid to traditional authorities for development projects, payment is usually delayed, stressing “as we are talking right now royalties for last year has not been paid”.
He noted that the Akrokerri Sub-Traditional Council for instance initiated several projects with the hope of receiving support from AngloGold but the company never responded, despite several appeals from the chiefs and people.
ANGLOGOLD PULLS FAST ONE ON GHANA
The Executive Director of the Centre for Social Impact Studies (CeSIS), Mr. Richard Ellimah, on his part, said the company’s decision smacks of a betrayal of trust and a demonstration of insensitivity to the people of Obuasi and beyond whose sacrifices have made the company what it is today.
According to him, it is regrettable that the company did not even have the courtesy to involve residents of their operational areas in their decision to shut down, knowing fully well the socio-economic ramifications of that decision.
“As a country and a community, we have realized, rather belatedly that AngloGold Ashanti has pulled a fast one on us. They have let us down badly.
“We made so many compromises. We signed a questionable Development Agreement with them that ensured they paid only 3 percent mineral royalties even when we raised the rate to 5 percent,” he lamented.
Mr. Ellimah said the impact of the company’s decision could not be underestimated for the fact that everything in the Adansi and Amansie areas was built around the mine with the hope that the required benefit would be obtained from the mineral resources.
“Schools were constructed with the hope that AngloGold Ashanti will provide infrastructural support. Hospitals and other health facilities have been constructed with the hope that the mining company would ‘donate’ essential equipment to keep them running, even markets were constructed because we thought demand for goods and services from the mining industry will keep them running,” he emphasised.
The Executive Director of CeSIS further observed “Every student who was lucky to make it to a tertiary institution always came back to Obuasi with the hope of being employed in the mine. And then in December each year, the assemblies eagerly await a donation from the mining company to make the Annual Farmers’ Day successful; we built a monolithic economy around mining.”
TIME TO PLAN WITHOUT MINING
The Executive Director of CeSIS therefore noted that the time had come for the four district assemblies, namely Obuasi, Adansi North and South and Amansie Central to begin to immediately start planning for their local economies without mining, since it has become obvious that they cannot continue to rely on this multinational mining giant to provide much needed funds for us.
Mr. Ellimah also advocated a serious rethinking of the promotion of legally registered small scale mining in our localities to ensure that, at least, every dollar or cedi they make will stay in this country and will not be siphoned into offshore accounts.
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