By Samuel Duodu, Kenyasi
Members of the Ahafo Extractive Engagement Group (AEEG) have called for the dissolution of the Ahafo Resettlement Negotiation Committee (RNC) and Crop Rate Review Committee (CRRC) since they no longer served the interest of the large majority of the people living in communities affected by mining in the Ahafo area of the Brong Ahafo Region.
The committees set up under the auspices of Newmont Ghana Gold Limited (NGGL), operators of the Ahafo Mine in Kenyasi in the Asutifi District in 2004, comprise representatives from communities, government agencies and the company.
The committees were to negotiate on issues concerning compensation and resettlements on behalf of persons in communities affected by the operations of the company, but had reneged on their core functions thereby placing the interest of the mining company above that of the people affected by mining.
AEEG, a coalition of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), Community Based Organisations (CBOs), Youth Associations, Students Unions, Farmers Associations and Business Associations operating in the district which acts as the voice of the local communities, promote their welfare and support the development agenda of the district assembly, said some of the members on the committees were representing communities that did not exist.
The group, which also operates under the bigger umbrella of the Ghana Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Coalition, mentioned some of the ghost communities which had a representation on the committees as Bonaa, Kodiwohia, Ba-past, and Subriagya, among others.
In a petition, signed by members of the AEEG calling for the dissolution of the RNC and CRRC, presented to the Asutifi District Chief Executive (DCE), Mr Eric Addae, and copied to the Ministers of Lands and Natural Resources, Environment, Science and Technology and the media in Kenyasi, said the committees had compromised their impartiality by accepting contracts from the company.
This practice, the group said, had fragmented the committees while the membership was also too large for effective deliberations to be made. There was also lack of feedback from members of thei communities.
The group stated further that the company together with the committees had reneged on their promises to conduct yearly elections of the members of the RNC made up of community representatives and the moderator.
It added that some prominent communities within the affected areas of mining also did not have representation on the RNC and mentioned one of the communities as Wamahinso.
The AEEG, in calling for the dissolution of the two committees, suggested that there should be one strong and effective committee, which would be responsible for the negotiations of crops, land and resettlement issues.
They suggested further that the total membership of the committee should not be more than 45, while farmers who have been marginalised in terms of education and organisation would be assisted by AEEG to form farmers associations.
It also recommended that farmers should represent the greater membership of the committee at least 30 out of the 45 members, because they were mostly directly affected when it came to compensation and resettlement while farmers’ representatives should be chosen from the various recognised farmers associations in the affected communities within the Asutifi District.
Again, the group suggested that the remaining 15 of the 45 members should comprise of representatives of the traditional authority, government agencies, a legal adviser, moderator and CBOs to serve as advisors and ex-officio members.
“There should also be yearly election of the members of the committee including the moderator.”
The AEEG noted that if the company did not want to go by the suggestions then it should abide by the provisions in the Minerals and Mining Act (Act 703 of 2006) which states that “ The amount of compensation payable should be determined by agreement between the two parties (the property owner and the company” according to section 73 (3).