DCE escapes public hooting as Bawumia begs Talensi small-scale miners for votes

Inset: The Talensi DCE, Thomas Duanab. Background: The vice president and his entourage at Gban, Talensi District, on Friday.

It was least expected that when Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia visited Gban, a gold-mining suburb of Talensi, on Friday as part of his campaign tour of the Upper East region, the District Chief Executive (DCE) of Talensi, Thomas Wuni Duanab, would be elsewhere against his own wish.

He was “conspicuously” missing at the event, according to one of the reporters who covered that visit.

When Media Without Borders sought an explanation for his absence, some members of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), who were present as the vice president engaged a multitude of small-scale miners in the community, disclosed he was forced to stay away to avoid an embarrassing scene.

Duanab became Talensi DCE on Friday, 8 October 2021.

“We hear the National Intelligence Bureau said they had gathered intelligence that small-scale miners in the area had planned to hoot at him if he appeared there,” said one of the NPP members. “So, the party told him to stay away because the hooting would embarrass not only him but the vice president, too.”

Media Without Borders tried to get the DCE’s side of the story to no avail. Two blue check marks appeared on a WhatsApp message sent to his mobile number by this media outfit, indicating that he read the request for his comment, but he never replied before press time.  

The DCE’s shrinking popularity, manifested by his first defeat in many years at the NPP’s parliamentary primary elections held last December, dipped further in March after a protest in his area saw two young men shot dead and several people including women sustain gunshot wounds.

The Talensi DCE, Thomas Wuni Duanab.

State security personnel, who were deployed by the regional security council (REGSEC) to Gban to seal off a number of mining pits owned by some indigenous licensed small-scale miners in favour of Earl International Group (Ghana) Gold Limited, a Chinese-owned mining firm previously known as Shaanxi Mining Company Limited, fired live bullets into a protesting crowd.

A third-year student of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Bright Mbadiatong, was shot dead at the protest scene. A native of the area, the young man was on a home visit to his mother when the protest erupted as members of the community tried to protect their livelihoods against state-backed attempts by the Chinese company to annex them.

Countless people were wounded at the scene as bullets were fired at the protesters.

Several natives of the district, including some small-scale miners, blamed the bloody chaos on the DCE and asked him to resign. They said some assembly members had put him on the alert that plans by REGSEC to seal off the pits would result in turmoil but he failed as the chairman of the district security council (DISEC) in Talensi to advise REGSEC to rescind that decision.

Bawumia promises to establish bank for small-scale miners

Addressing the small-scale miners, the vice president said a bank similar to the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) established for farmers would be set up for them so they could acquire loans to procure machines for their mining businesses.

The DCE missing at the event became a major topic of discussion in Talensi and the regional capital, Bolgatanga.

“Now you don’t have the right machines to work well. Is that not so? Is that not so? You don’t have the machines. For that reason, we will help you with the machines. We will introduce a bank which will be called Minerals Development Bank to help small-scale miners in mining, just as we introduced the Agricultural Development Bank to help farmers.

“Minerals Development Bank will also help small-scale miners in mining. The bank will help you to get the machines so that you can work on the gold and get the gold and whatever you need to work on your [tailings dams]. We will put up what is called common user processing facilities so that you can extract the gold. Then, we will buy the gold from you and retain the gold in Ghana and pay you,” Bawumia said in Mampruli, his own mother tongue understood by a section of the Talensi inhabitants.

Bawumia and the NPP’s parliamentary candidate for Talensi, Robert Ayinenaba Alibo, at the event.

He also told them a new policy would be introduced where traditional chiefs and district mining committees would be part of a mining licence committee mandated to ensure everything worked well for small-scale miners.

“I want all of you to get money, to get more money. Is that not so? Small-scale miners, I’m going to help you to get more money. I’m going to help all of you to become millionaires, Ghana millionaires, so that all you will get money and if you get money, all of us will enjoy it.

“From now on, we are going to focus on gold. Wherever we identify gold, we are not going to allow any White man to be involved. It’s going to be one-hundred percent concessions to the people of Ghana and we are going to give it to our people so that we can use it to develop our country,” the vice president stated.

A section of the crowd at the event.

He wrapped up his message with a plea for support from the small-scale miners at the upcoming general elections.

“The policy is that all the concessions identified as gold-mining areas will be given to communities for mining purposes and all the concessions would be given to our people. For this reason, I want to help you. The people are cheating us.

“I want to help you so that you, too, can help me. When you help me to win the election, you will see how I can also help you. So, come out and talk to yourselves, knowing that I’m bringing a new policy to make sure that all the gold is for us,” he said.

Source: Edward Adeti/Media Without Borders/mwbonline.org/Ghana


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