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Appointment of new Executive Director of CeSIS

Robert Ali Tanti, new Executive Director, effective 4th January 2021.

Appointment of new Executive Director of CeSIS

The Governing Board of the Centre for Social Impact Studies (CeSIS) has announced the appointment of Mr. Robert Ali Tanti as its new Executive Director.  His appointment comes after the Founding Executive Director of CeSIS, Richard Ellimah, resigned from his position.

Ali Tanti began his career in Obuasi as a volunteer for CeSIS and several other Community-based organizations before transitioning to natural resource governance, reproductive health, youth development, social inclusion, climate change, small-scale mining and human rights advocacy. CsSIS started in January 2011 as a research and advocacy non-governmental organisation, primarily focusing on providing research backbone to Ghana’s extractive industry. The group has become the sole mouthpiece of mining-affected communities in Obuasi and adjoining districts especially when it comes to compensation, environmental and human rights issues. They recently observed their 10th anniversary.

The Governing Board of the Centre for Social Impact Studies (CeSIS) is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr Robert Ali Tanti as its new Executive Director, effective 4th January 2021. This follows the resignation of Mr. Richard Ellimah as Executive Director of the organization. Mr. Ellimah is the founding Executive Director of CeSIS, and over the past 10 years has led the transformation of the organization to its present state.

Within this period he led a powerful team and fostered a community of enthusiasm and innovation, and transformed CeSIS with strengthened organizational management strategies to new heights of sustainability.

Mr. Tanti, holds a Bachelor of Education in Counselling Psychology from the University of Education, Winneba and a Master of Public Health (MPH) from the University of Ghana. He has also undertaken several training courses both home and abroad.

Mr. Ali Tanti began his career in Obuasi as a volunteer for CeSIS and several other Community based organizations before transitioning to natural resource governance, reproductive health, youth development, social inclusion, climate change, small-scale mining and human rights advocacy. As someone who has a long-standing association with CeSIS, we believe Mr. Tanti is best placed to lead the organization to the next phase of its development.

We remain committed to the same principles and services that have served mining communities over the past 10 years and have made a difference in natural resource management and advocacy for human rights, and look forward to the future with optimism.

We wish Mr. Ellimah well in his future endeavours, and congratulate Mr. Tanti on his new appointment. We pledge our unflinching support for him as he navigates the challenging task of leading this great organisation.

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CeSIS Celebrates a Decade of Excellence in Research and Advocacy

The Center for Social Impact Studies (CeSIS) is delighted to be celebrating ten years of its establishment as a research and advocacy non-governmental organization with a primary focus on providing research backbone to Ghana’s extractive industry.

Over the past ten years, CeSIS has played a significant role in shaping the national discourse on transparency in the utilization of mineral revenue, particularly at the sub-regional level. Furthermore the organisation has made critical inputs into the national discourse on Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM), always articulating the position that this key economic sector holds the key to poverty reduction, youth employment and rural industrialization in mining communities across the country. CeSIS holds the view that strengthening the capacity of the Minerals Commission will go a long way to equip them to sanitize the ASM sector and maximize its potential to contribute to local economies.

In the past ten years, our mission to influence policy change in favour of communities impacted by the operations of extractive companies has been tremendously executed as CeSIS has become the sole mouthpiece of mining affected communities in Obuasi and adjoining districts especially on compensation, environmental and human rights issues. Officials of CeSIS have also travelled around the world sharing the organisation’s experiences with students, researchers, civil society actors, government officials, and the business community.

A refreshing part of this success story is the many partnerships and collaborations that CeSIS forged with both local and international organizations. We have enjoyed tremendous working relationships with organisations and institutions such as Third World Network, Africa (TWN–Africa), Publish What You Pay, Ghana (PWYP – Ghana), Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), Responsible Mining Foundation (RMF), National Coalition on Mining (NCOM) and Australian High Commission. CeSIS has also enjoyed immense support from state regulatory bodies like Minerals Commission and Environmental Protection Agency. Our biggest cheerleaders have however been the communities that we serve.

As we celebrate a decade of existence, we believe it is an excellent opportunity for us to rethink the role of both large and small-scale mining in the socio-economic development of Ghana. We therefore welcome the call from the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for an open conversation on artisanal mining popularly known as “galamsey”. We hope that this “conversation” will produce outcomes that can lead to a total turnaround of the small-scale mining sector.

The 10th Anniversary celebration which is on the theme “CeSIS @10: Celebrating a Decade of Excellence in Research and Community Empowerment” and will run from Monday 11th to Friday 15th January 2021.

(Signed)

Jerry Mensah-Pah

(Acting Board Chairman)

For further information, and for media interviews kindly contact the following:

⦁ Jerry Mensah Pah (Acting Board Chairman) – 0243164704

⦁ Robert Ali Tanti (Acting Executive Director) – 024648674

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Australian alumni create major changes to mining in Ghana

Three Australian Awards alumni, each with a different lens, are creating positive change in the mining sector in their home country of Ghana. Collectively, they’re making significant shifts for the benefit of the industry as a whole and for artisanal small-scale operators in rural areas who depend on mining for their livelihoods.

One alum, Richard Ellimah, who completed an Australian short course on Local Economic and Social Development in Extractives, University of Queensland (2015), has made great strides helping artisanal miners gain access to their own mineral concession.

Ghana is the largest gold producer in Africa, with mining and quarrying representing 9.8 per cent of gross domestic product, according to the Ghana Chamber of Mines. Around 57 per cent of gold produced comes from large-scale mines such as AngloGold Ashanti’s Obuasi mine.

Richard began advocating for small-scale mining when he realised that over 40,000 of the miners could not work legally in Obuasi because AngloGold Ashanti’s concession covered the entire Municipality and therefore nobody could do legal mining. The company’s concession of 485 square kilometres up until 2016 was the largest mining concession held by a single mining company in Ghana.

“In 2014, when AngloGold Ashanti said it would temporarily shut down its Obuasi mine for care and maintenance, illegal miners took over the company’s concession, occupying strategic parts of the mine, including the underground mine,” says Richard.

Richard relied on the soft skills acquired while studying in Australia to advocate for AngloGold Ashanti to release part of its concession, enabling small-scale miners to work legally. His leadership, stakeholder engagement and negotiation skills were critical throughout the detailed and lengthy process.

“In Australia I learned how government, industry and community work together to ensure well-designed mining structures and arrangements and compliance with laws,” says Richard, who joined the Minerals Commission’s Movement Committee tasked with developing a solution to the artisanal miners’ problem. “I was impressed with how large corporations co-exist with small-scale miners and wanted to incorporate this into the Obuasi economy.”

The result was nothing short of victory with AngloGold Ashanti ceding 60 per cent of its concession to the government.

“The illegal miners moved out of the active gold fields they had invaded, and AngloGold Ashanti resumed operations there. The illegal miners moved to the ceded area,” says Richard. “The Movement Committee’s work restored confidence in the economy and strengthened Ghana’s position as the preferred destination of mining investment in West Africa.”

The project was so successful it has become a model that is being replicated in other mining communities, where large and small-scale miners now peacefully co-exist.

Another alumnus, Isaac Ato Sam, works as a Superintendent in Mine Planning and Fleet Management at AngloGold Ashanti. He completed his Masters of Science in Mining Engineering under the Australia Awards at Curtin University in 2018.

Since returning home, Isaac has implemented projects that have had a major impact on safety, productivity, efficiency, and social inclusion in the highly competitive and capital-intensive gold mining industry.

His work is important given that AngloGold Ashanti is the third largest mining operation in the world measured by production, with a huge impact on the economy in Ghana.

“Mine operations and expansion require significant foreign investment, but if costs aren’t controlled, investors will seek other opportunities,” says Isaac. “Mining companies must continually improve productivity and efficiency while meeting safety and environmental standards. Mining can be dangerous so companies must also protect lives, safeguard property, and support the communities where workers live.”

Isaac’s projects including implementing Australia’s predictive SmartCap technology which heavy machinery operators wear to monitor alertness.

“At first workers were suspicious that SmartCap could read their thoughts, so we held a change management exercise explaining what the system is, how to use it and what information mine management would receive,” says Isaac. “SmartCap vastly improved operator alertness by 18 per cent in the first 12 months.”

Other major projects include mine-to-mill optimisation to increase plant productivity and implementing  a communications platform to monitor mine performance against operational targets. Isaac also led a project that minimised ground vibration and air blast noise, to protect surrounding communities. Excavator productivity has increased by 4 per cent, milling productivity by 3 per cent and gold production by 4 per cent. Ground vibration and air blast noise measured in decibels are continually below regulatory standards.

Alumna Rosemary Okla is also immersed in Ghana’s mining industry, including by boosting the presence and opportunities of women miners.

Rosemary, who completed a Local Economics and Development in Extractives Artisanal and Small-scale Mining Australia Awards short course from the University of Queensland (2019), now works at the Ghana Geological Survey Authority as Geographic Information Systems Specialist. One flagship project she worked on after returning home was working with Women in Mining Ghana to conduct a one-day workshop for women miners.

“My studies in Australia really prepared me to design the program workshop, raise funds for the workshop, organise my presentation and write the final report,” says Rosemary.

Once again, results are positive. The “Promoting business diversification of ASM Miners, especially women” workshop received positive media coverage and has encouraged more women to invest in development minerals which, in turn, generates foreign direct investment for Ghana.

Photo Credit: Richard Ellimah, Isaac Ato Sam, Rosemary Okla

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Balance mining’s fiscal and environmental requirements

It is imperative for government to balance mining fiscal requirements for revenue and prioritisation of environmental issues to promote sustainable socioeconomic development, Responsible Mining Foundation (RMF), a Swiss-based independent research organisation, has advocated.

“It is in the interest of present and future generations to balance income and environmental issues in mining. Because environment issues are inter-generational, how we destroy the environment today through mining will definitely affect the next generations,” Helene M. Piaget of RMF told the B&FT.

The call comes on the heels of growing concerns about the country’s uncompromising taste for mining revenue, amid its associated environmental destruction – especially pollution of water-bodies. Many have blamed the ‘gaps’ in the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006, Act 702, for creating a vacuum in the exploitation of natural resources and weak enforcement of existing regulatory regimes.

Responsible mining, she argued, is a shared responsibility and therefore all must endeavour to contribute to that cause. “Responsible mining is what companies owe to society; society must articulate what it expects from mining companies and hold them to account; investors must also show keen interest in operations of companies while government plays its regulatory role effectively”.

Madam Piaget was speaking to the B&FT on the sidelines of a roundtable consultation on the Responsible Mining Index (RMI) 2018, held at Obuasi in the Ashanti Region. Participants at the seminar included civil society activists, media practitioners, academia, researchers, mine workers, and residents of mining-affected communities among others.

The RMI 2018 featured 30 multinational mining companies from 16 home-countries, including publicly-listed, state-owned and private ones. The assessed companies operate more than 700 sites in over 40 producing countries, and the assessment covered most mined commodities – excluding oil and gas. The index focused largely on company-wide behaviour, while also looked at site-level actions at 127 sites; thus, providing a snapshot of information disaggregated to the level of individual mining operations.

The scope of the RMI 2018 centred on six thematic areas: Economic development; Business conduct; Lifecycle management; Community Wellbeing; Working conditions and Environmental responsibility. The RMI supports the principle that minerals and metals mining should benefit the economies, improve the lives of people and respect the environments of producing countries, while also benefitting mining companies in a fair and viable way.

From the findings, many of the companies demonstrated establishment of responsible policies and practices; the index however recommended thoughtful and innovative approaches, leading to mining practices and efforts that equitably address the range of economic, environmental, social and governance issues which emanate from the industry.

“As a sector with large-scale and far-reaching potential, mining can also support achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. However, the one-time removal of these non-renewable resources has often failed to catalyse economic development; and for too many people and too many environments, mining brings lasting disruptive consequences,” it stated.

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Goldfields has betrayed the Government of Ghana – Centre for Social Impact Studies

South African mining giant, Goldfields Ghana Limited, has announced that it will be retrenching a substantial number of its workers at its Tarkwa mine. The company has explained that it is adopting a new business model that will see it sub-contracting portions of its operations to some qualified contractors. The move by the company will see the retrenchment of over 2,000 workers. The impact of this proposed retrenchment exercise on individual households and the wider local economy will be very dire. It will be recalled that AngloGold Ashanti four years ago similarly retrenched over 5,000 workers. The negative ramifications of this exercise is still being felt in Obuasi and the nation as a whole.

The move by Goldfields Ghana to retrench the workers has come as a surprise to many Ghanaians. In our opinion the exercise smacks of bad faith on the part of the company, after virtually blackmailing the Government of Ghana to enter into a Development Agreement with it in early 2016. Among other incentives the Agreement gives Goldfields Ghana a reduced corporate tax from 35 percent to 32.5 percent. Additionally, the company will be paying royalty at the sliding rate of 3 – 5 percent, instead of the flat rate of 5 percent indexed to the price of gold. The Agreement is valid for 11 years.

There is no doubt that like Newmont and AngloGold Ashanti before it, Goldfields Ghana has been the beneficiary of the largesse of a state desperate to retain foreign direct investment in its mining sector. It is therefore not surprising that the company states on its website that the fiscal concessions they were given under the Agreement is saving them up to USD33 million a year effective 2016.

Almost a year after the Government of Ghana bent over backwards and gave Goldfields Ghana these generous incentives, it is disappointing to note that the company has betrayed the trust of the government. Typical of most multinational mining companies operating in our sub region, Goldfields has disregarded its own commitment and promises and rather proposed an insensitive retrenchment exercise that will see 2,150 workers losing their jobs and livelihoods. We are saddened that the inordinate desire to reap supernormal profits has lured Goldfields to make this decision. This is a clear violation of Section 68 sub section 1(c) and (d) of the Minerals and Mining Acts 703. Interestingly this is the second time Goldfields is laying off staff in three years. In 2014, its Damang operations sacked over 400 workers citing a similar excuse.

It is against this background that the Centre for Social Impact Studies (CeSIS), a non-governmental research and advocacy organisation, is calling on government to immediately halt this move by Goldfields Ghana to lay off more than 2,000 of its employees. With a precarious economy marked by high unemployment and youth agitations, it will be suicidal for government to approve a move by the company that will swell the ranks of the unemployed. Furthermore, CeSIS calls on government to revive the work of the Professor Akilagpa Sawyer-led team that started renegotiating the terms of Stability and Development Agreements signed between government and the mining companies to ensure that the state is not short-changed in any negotiation.

While commending the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and its affiliate, the Ghana Mineworkers Union (GMU) for their resilience, we urge all well-meaning Ghanaians particularly civil society organisations to support and participate in the campaign to ensure that Goldfields rescinds its decision to retrench its workers. This glaring case of corporate greed must not be countenanced in our country again.

Richard Kojo Ellimah

(Executive Director)

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PRESS RELEASE: REVIEW STABILITY CLAUSES NOW!

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release

REVIEW STABILITY CLAUSES NOW!

In an effort to attract foreign direct investments into the country in the 1980s, the Government of Ghana, under the supervision of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, introduced a number of reforms in the mining sector, which was used as a growth pole for reviving an almost comatose economy. The reforms formed part of the general Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) undertaken by the government. As part of these reforms, a number of incentives were introduced to make Ghana a competitive destination for foreign direct investment in the solid minerals sector. Some of these incentives include tax holidays of up to ten years, low royalty payments, exemption from the payment of import duties on equipments, non-payment of VAT on furnished accommodation, and a number of others.

In addition to the general incentives that the Ghana Investment Code offered to investors who come into the country, the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006, Act 703 also consolidates these incentives to multinational companies operating in the mining sector.

While acknowledging the fact that the 1980s presented serious challenges to the economy and governance systems in the country, almost over two decades of political stability has rendered these incentives irrelevant. From the heady days of one military coup after the other, the country has seen a very stable political system, with 19 years of constitutional democracy. This has been achieved against the backdrop of an increasingly stable political environment in the West African sub-region. For instance, Nigeria which was ushered into constitutional rule in 1999 successfully underwent its most peaceful elections in its 51 – year history, Sierra Leone and Liberia are recovering from brutal civil wars through the installation of democratically elected regimes, and Togo went through a smooth constitutional change in leadership after the death of President Gnassingbe Eyadema in 2005. Guinea for the first time in her history has successfully organised democratic elections and installed a President. Ghana, meanwhile successfully managed elections in 2008 with the then opposition candidate beating the ruling party’s candidate by the slimmest of margins. These positive developments in the sub-region defeat any fears of political instability that has been used as an excuse by investors to force our governments into signing unfavourable stability agreements with them.

Apart from the political stability that the country has enjoyed, the economy has also grown averagely above 5 percent over the past decade. Even when the global economic recession hit several economies around the world, the Ghanaian economy showed great resilience successfully weathering these difficult times. Inflation has been managed fairly well over the years, interest rates have consistently fallen, and budget deficits have also been managed well by successive regimes. There is currently a very vibrant banking sector that can compete with any in the world. In addition to this robust banking industry, the Ghana Stock Exchange has also consistently been ranked as one of the best performing in the world, indicating massive confidence in the economy.

Additionally, state institutions that can be relied on to serve as arbiters in cases of dispute are relatively strong, independent and have shown that they have the capacity to deal with any investment related problems. An example is the Commercial Courts that have been established by the Chief Justice to deal with commercial disputes expeditiously. The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) also exists to protect the rights of both the multinational companies and their employees. A vibrant media and civil society that reflect different shades of opinion in the country also exists to check the excesses of an over-exuberant government that may attempt to subvert a company’s investment agreement.

In the midst of all these positive indicators, arguments for the continued retention of the Stability Clauses in the country’s investment agreements with multinationals are untenable. For instance, it makes no economic sense for the government to forgo its mandatory 10 percent stake in Newmont Ghana Gold Limited, very much in contravention of Section 43 (1) of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703). Furthermore, multinational mining companies in the country are still paying 3 percent royalties, even though Parliament has reviewed the rate to 5 percent. The reason is that these companies have stability agreements with government that will hold the 3 percent royalty for a period of 15 years! Again, Newmont and other multinational mining companies do not pay any VAT because of the same stability agreement. We find it strange that the country can mortgage the payment of royalties, considered as the most reliable source of mineral revenue to the country. If mining companies were paying the right levels of royalty to the nation, government could make enough to finance national development. For instance, a study by Akabzaa and Ayamdoo (2007) indicates that if royalties were paid at 6 percent between 1990 and 2007, the nation would have earned up to $388 million in mineral revenue.

The presence of these stability agreements robs the nation of much needed revenue to finance her development, particularly in an era when commodity prices are rising steadily on the international market (Gold, for instance is selling at record levels above 1,500 dollars an ounce). Sadly, whiles the nation loses revenue, these multinationals enjoy periods of economic boom.

It is against this background that the Centre for Social Impact Studies (CeSIS), a non-governmental research and advocacy organisation, is calling on government to urgently begin a process towards reviewing all the Stability agreements with multinational corporations operating in the extractive sector to ensure that the nation reaps maximum benefits from her natural resource endowments in periods of commodity boom. By agreeing to review these clauses, Ghana would be joining countries like Australia, Tanzania, Guinea, Liberia and Zambia who have all either reviewed their laws or are in the process of doing so, to ensure that their countries benefitted from the current commodity boom. We further call on government to be mindful of the national interest when signing future agreements with multinational companies operating in the mining, oil and gas sector. Furthermore, government should embrace international best practices of transparency by expunging confidentiality clauses in the Minerals and Mining Act so that citizens can know the nature of agreements entered into on their behalf by their elected government. In line with this, we join the Coalition on the Right to Information to call for the immediate passage of the Freedom of Information Act by Parliament to empower the citizenry to hold their government to account.

 

 

Clement K. Asiedu-Menlah

(Director, Research and Advocacy)

 

To:

All Press Houses

 

For more information, contact:

  1. Frank Bannor

(Senior Research Officer)

0246 416382

  1. Stephen Yeboah

(Senior Research Officer)

0271 103318

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STATEMENT BY CENTRE FOR SOCIAL IMPACT STUDIES (CeSIS) ON GOVERNMENT’S UTILISATION OF GHC 3.6 MILLION TO REBRAND METRO MASS TRANSIT BUSES

16th December 2015
For immediate release
We have read with horror and trepidation, government’s decision to use GHC 3.6 million to rebrand 116 Metro Mass Transit buses. According to the 2015 Annual Report on the Petroleum Funds discussed in Parliament, government spent 31,457 cedis on each bus, leading to a cumulative expenditure of GHC 3.6 million. This expenditure incurred by the Ministry of Transport was made from the Petroleum Funds.
The wanton use of natural resource revenues for such reckless expenditures should give every Ghanaian cause for concern. Natural resource revenues are not like other conventional sources of revenue available to the state. First of all, they are revenues that come from resources that are finite. Furthermore, prices of these natural resources are very volatile and unstable. These two key factors combined dictate that natural resource revenues are utilized prudently to ensure that the state derives optimum benefit from their extraction.
It is sad to note however that successive governments have ignored these key principles regarding natural resource revenue management, and gone ahead to utilize revenues on items of expenditure that add no value to the lives of residents living in frontline communities or ameliorate their development challenges occasioned by the presence of these natural resources. For instance in the past we have seen mining revenues being used on recurrent expenditure like waste management, painting of district assembly administration buildings, purchase of fuel for DCEs’ vehicles, repair of telecommunication facilities, etc. This has gone a long way to contribute to the increasing social tension in resource rich communities. Sadly, after more than 100 years of “formal” mining in Ghana, the country has very little to show for it.
Going by lessons in the mining sector, one would have thought that government, since the discovery in 2007, and commercial production of oil in December 2010 would be mindful of the need to utilize petroleum revenues prudently. Several reports, including those of the Public Interest Accountability Committee (PIAC) have implicated government in the misuse of petroleum funds.
The Centre for Social Impact Studies (CeSIS), a research and advocacy organisation roundly condemns the use of petroleum funds to rebrand Metro Mass Transit buses. Not only is the expenditure for the rebranding immorally outrageous, but the very idea that they came from petroleum funds makes it even
more disappointing, to say the least. We are furthermore compelled to question the government’s own sense of priority in the utilisation of revenues.
At a time when various regulatory and oversight agencies in the natural resource sector like the Minerals Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Petroleum Commission and Public Interest and Accountability Committee are under-resourced, it makes no sense to spend GHC 3.6 million to rebrand vehicles. For the past three years mineral royalty has also not been paid, stalling development in mineral-dependent district assemblies. Moreover, SEND Ghana, a Ghanaian civil society organisation reports that government’s own fertilizer subsidy programme has slumped from 50 percent in 2008 to 21 percent in 2015. It is little surprising that Ghana has stumbled two places back in the 2014 Human Development Index!
We wish to once again call on government to refrain from spending natural resource revenues on items of expenditure that do not inure to the benefit of residents living in frontline communities. Considering the finite nature of natural resource revenues, it is absolutely necessary for government to concentrate expenditure on sectors like education, health, agricultural productivity and infrastructural development. This is the only way that the people of Ghana can collectively benefit from the exploitation of their natural resources.
(Signed)
Richard Ellimah
(Executive Director)
Tel: +233 24 4514 559
Email: richellimah@gmail.com
cesisghana@gmail.com
To: All media houses
1.8594648

CENTRE FOR SOCIAL IMPACT STUDIES (CeSIS) AND YOUTH ALLIANCE FOR DEVELOPMENT (YAD) CONDEMN ATTACKS ON DR. HENRY SEIDU DAANNAA, MINISTER-DESIGNATE FOR CHIEFTAINCY AND CULTURE

Last week, the Paramount Chief of the Seikwa Traditional Area, Nana Kwaku Dwomoh Ankoan shocked the entire nation when he made what can best be described as a highly disappointing statement against the nomination of Dr. Henry Seidu Daannaa as the Minister designate for Chieftaincy and Culture by President John Dramani Mahama. In condemning the nomination of Dr. Daannaa, Nana Ankoan did not mince words when he stated that the nominee’s disability did not make him a good candidate for the Chieftaincy and Culture Ministry. He went further to threaten that if Parliament goes ahead to approve Dr. Daannaa’s appointment, no chief will be prepared to accept him to their palace because custom does not permit persons with disability to enter chief’s palaces.

We unreservedly condemn the comments by Nana Kwaku Dwomo Ankoan. The statement is uncivilised and an affront to the fundamental human rights of Dr. Daannaa and the inclusive democracy that Ghana has struggled to build over the years. More disappointing is the use of custom as a basis to entrench the marginalisation of vulnerable groups like persons with disability. Our customs and traditions, instead of being used to advance the common good of our societies, have rather become tools for denigrating hard working members of the society merely on the basis of their disability. There is little doubt that the time for change has come!

We find it unacceptable that a traditional ruler, who is an embodiment of the progressive values of society, and who is supposed to be a unifier has become such a divisive character, choosing to discriminate against people on the basis of their disability. By his utterances, Nana Ankoan has succeeded in further marginalising persons with disability in his traditional area.

We are satisfied that Dr. Daannaa, rather than beg for alms by the road side, has risen to such great heights. He has defied societal expectations and broken through the cultural and social barriers to receive education to the highest level, attending no mean an institution than the revered Harvard University in the United States. Rather than mock him and use obviously outmoded customs to push him out of public office, the least we can do as Ghanaians is to encourage him and hold him up as a role model for other persons with disability, especially the youth who find themselves on the streets of the cities as beggars. Dr. Daannaa is a role model worthy of emulation by all Ghanaians.

The Centre for Social Impact Studies (CeSIS), a research and advocacy organisation, and Youth Alliance for Development (YAD) jointly call on Nana Ankoan to offer an unqualified apology to Dr. Daannaa for the huge embarrassment he has caused him.

Furthermore, we call on the National House of Chiefs to issue a statement distancing itself from the unfortunate comments of one of their own. Though at their meeting with President Mahama the House pledged to work with Dr. Daannaa, it has to condemn in no uncertain terms the comments by the Seikwa chief.

The House of Chiefs should move a step further to sensitise its members on modern concepts of democratic governance, including social inclusion. All customs and traditions which are in conflict with these governance principles must be modified or discarded altogether. We want to see our palaces embracing all manner of people, particularly socially disadvantaged groups like persons with disability.

Signed
Richard Ellimah
Executive Director
(CeSIS)
0244514559, 0265899523

Ali Tanti Robert
Executive Director (YAD)
0246486740,0206125181