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Opinions of Monday, 27 June 2011

Columnist: Bomfeh, James Kwabena

Anglogold Ashanti Is An Irresponsible Company

On the June 13th 2011, Wacam with the support of Oxfam America held a ceremony under its Victims’ Support Programme to offer some assistance to three victims of AngloGold Ashanti, namely; Awudu Mohammed , James Sarpong and Sandra Sarpong. The Youth for Action Ghana was happy to have been associated with this kind gesture of Wacam.

Unhappy about the public exposure of the irresponsibility nature of their operations, AGA decided to engage in their usual cheap media gimmick by advertising that they are committed to protecting human rights in the State owned Ghanaian Times newspaper dated June 22, 2011. In the said publication, they sought to denigrate Civil Society Organizations who have been caring for the victims of their reckless and irresponsible acts.

Youth for Action Ghana, YfAG finds this as an affront to the sensibilities of Ghanaians and most despicable especially coming from a company who recently ranked poor in the environmental performance rating of the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) dubbed AKOBEN and won the Public Eye Peoples’ Award 2011 as the most irresponsible company in the whole wide world.

Instead of the resolving the problems of the communities and changing their ways of operating which resulted in their poor rating as well as the irresponsible corporate award, AGA decided to engage the services of a Public Relations’ organisation at a very huge cost to discredit advocacy organizations supporting victims of their crime. These spin doctors, are themselves nothing more than vultures feeding on the blood and suffering of AGA’s victims. After making blood stained money, they put up religious cloaks to pretend holiness.

YfAG participated in the Victim Support Programme and feel angered that a company had committed such crimes and is showing insensitivity and can have the guts to issue a statement against NGOs that are expressing passion for victims their crimes. AGA Obuasi mine used to operate a private detention facility it inherited from Ashanti Gold Fields( AGC) and only closed it down after lots of complaints from advocacy organisations. We challenge the company to deny whether they have not tortured suspects by using guard dogs to chew suspects, shot them and got away with it when the laws of Ghana and international conventions are clearly against torture of suspects.

The attempt by AGA to hide behind the fact that majority of the violations were under the AGC cannot stand because they were aware of human rights abuses and environmental problems before the merger and the company continued the crimes after the merger. What is worse is that Ghana currently does not have any shares in AGA Obuasi and Iduapriem mines though the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006, Act 703 provides that Ghana Government has 10 percent free carried interest. Why our Government would allow the trampling of her laws by a foreign company is indeed worrisome!

We need to as a country protect our citizens and all that we have. We cannot allow foreign companies to come into our country, plunder our resources and abuse our people to cup it. The time is now to expose the mess the mining companies are creating and the impunity with which they violate our laws and the rights of our dear citizens.

God bless our homeland Ghana and make us strong to defend her forever.

James Kwabena Bomfeh Jnr

Executive Director of Youth for Action Ghana