The Natural Resources and Climate Change Committee of Parliament is justified to express concern over government’s decision to go ahead with oil and gas exploration on Lake Malawi when there is no petroleum policy and a revised Petroleum Act in place.
The committee has highlighted that the country is using an outdated 1983 Petroleum Act which “vests all the petroleum products in the hands of the life president”.
Lake Malawi is the undisputed jewel of Africa containing just under one-fifth of the surface fresh water supplies of the world – out of all the water on earth less than three percent is fresh water and less than one percent of it as surface water in lakes, swamps and rivers.
Again, any oil pollution of the lake will not only impact the lakeshore populations but populations across the country and adversely affect wide-ranging economic activities whose ultimate water source is the lake.
Therefore, in the absence of clear and efficient legal tools, it would be naïve to leave the decision that is fated to relegate to ecological oblivion a 6.5 million-year-old wonder – a national resource that has sustained the livelihoods of hundreds of generations – to one or two individuals who also seem consumed by unrepressed greed, corruption and heartless selfishness.
Recall, we do not have a single inter-generational investment or infrastructure project to point at.
And that casts doubt on the belief that the country will benefit ‘beyond recognition’ from exploitation of oil on Lake Malawi.
Let the government call for a balanced and transparent debate on the issue of exploiting oil on Lake Malawi.
Let the government hear and heed the voices of the people it claims to represent considering the gravity of the issue and the far-reaching consequences likely to emanate from the decision to proceed with oil and gas exploration and exploitation in the country’s fresh water lake that presently provides immeasurable economic sustenance for the nation.