Former President John Mahama has criticised the blanket ban on illegal small-scale mining and the formation of the Operation Vanguard to enforce the prohibition.
He said although it was a fact that the illegal small-scale mining was destroying the environment, it was incumbent on the government to put in place measures to regulate it and also provide livelihood programmes to cater for those displaced by the ban on illegal small-scale mining.
Former President Mahama was speaking at a rally as part of activities of the unity health walk of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Kumasi last Saturday.
The walk attracted many stalwarts and supporters of the NDC from across the country.
Declaring that using force was not the best way to go, Mr Mahama said his administration used force to stop the illegal small-scale mining, but it realised it was not the best option.
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In view of that, he said his government instituted laws and regulations to govern illegal mining to ensure that mining benefitted all.
“You don’t have to put a blanket ban and then send soldiers after the young people, because it is not the way to go. As you stop illegal small-scale mining, at the same time you have to put in place livelihood package so that as you are displacing people they have something else to do,” he said.
Mr Mahama’s comments, has, however, been rebutted by the Minister of Land and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu.
In a reaction, Mr Amewu called on Ghanaians to disregard the comments by the former President.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the eighth Ghana Entrepreneurs and Corporate Executive Awards held in Accra, last Saturday, Mr Amewu, who has been at the forefront of the government's fight against illegal mining, said the approach being used by the government to deal with the canker was more resolute and robust enough to sanitise the system.
He chastised the former President for doing little to tackle the menace even though he had the greatest opportunity to do so.
Contrary to the position held by the former President that there was no sustainable approach to dealing with the canker, Mr Amewu said that Cabinet had approved the multi-sectoral mining integrated project (MMIP) that would comprehensively deal with the illegal mining menace.
He reiterated that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo would launch the MMIP in the coming days to give a clear-cut policy direction on the way forward for lifting the ban for small-scale miners to resume their business and work within the regulatory framework.
Mr Amewu said the government would continue to engage small-scale miners and other stakeholders in the mining sector to ensure that structures were implemented to sanitise the sector.