The Natural Resources Justice Network (NRJN) has said it is not impressed with the pace that the government is taking in reviewing the law that governs the mining sector in the country.
The network’s Chairperson, Kossam Munthali, said this in Lilongwe in an interview last week after a consultative meeting on how best the mining revenue can be utilised to benefit Malawians.
Malawi‘s mining legislation has not kept pace with the rapid modernisation of mining codes that has gone on in the African region.
The Mines and Minerals Act of 1981 is now one of the oldest mining codes in sub-Saharan Africa.
A taskforce was established in 2002 to formulate policies for the mineral sector, but to date the National Mineral Sector Policy remains in draft form.
Munthali said the civil society organisations have been calling for political change of the mining law but the government keeps on creating one story after the other.
“When you look at the current pace of the review of the Mines and Minerals Act, a lot needs to be done. We are now talking of oil exploration but at the same time we have an outdated Petroleum, Oil Production Act and Environment Management Act. If you look at all these developments, you will find that Malawi will still go back because we are not ready and we are about to repeat the same mistake we have made in mining,” Munthali said.
He said people in the areas close to the mining sites continue getting a raw deal from the mining industry and there is need for quick legal framework review to ensure that the government and companies in the mining sector are transparent and communities benefit.
Chief Economist in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development George Harawa said the government is trying to be transparent and ensure that communities benefit from the mining revenues.
The government, through the World Bank-funded Growth and Governance Support Project, has hired United States-based consultants, Gary McMahon and Sridar Kannan, to assist it design policy options and institutional arrangements both for minerals revenue management and resource allocation.
This shall include, but not limited to, the distribution of revenue between central government and local mining communities; current and future generations; recurrent and development budgetary allocations; and fiscal policy approaches such as the fiscal sustainability framework and permanent income hypothesis.