Paladin Africa Managing Director Greg Walker has told off communities around Kayelekera Uranium Mine for what he called their continued attack on his company for failing to fulfill Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes.
Walker also wondered why Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Karonga did not invite his company to a consultative meeting between communities around the mines NGOs and government officials at the district council where the media were present on Thursday last week.
On the communities’ concerns, Walker said his company has stuck to everything it stated it would do in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and wondered why people keep bringing up issues that are non-existent.
“On assertions that we have downgraded a pledged health centre to just a clinic which is currently [at] foundation level, all procedures were followed on what kind of health facility is appropriate equivalent to the number of people in the catchment area,” he said.
During the meeting, communities accused government officials of playing games with mining company owners at the expense of the locals.
“Generally, we feel used and duped by our government because it is failing to hold these people accountable for the pledges they made as part of their social responsibility,” said Edward Sichinga, Secretary for Mbande Area Development Committee (ADC).
Sichinga reminded the gathering that Paladin Africa pledged a modern primary School, a health centre, safe drinking water and a stadium but none of them has come to fruition.
“One morning, we were caught unawares to learn that they had engaged a contractor to dig a foundation for a clinic and yet we were not duly informed as direct beneficiaries that they had reduced the said health centre to a clinic. We do not think the office of the District Commissioner (DC) is blind on this, hence we suspect foul play,” charged Sichinga.
Another company that came under attack was Malawi Coal (Malcoal) which in its MoU committed to construct teachers’ houses and drill boreholes in the area. Officials from the company were not available at the meeting.
But Karonga District Council Acting Director of Planning and Development Emmanuel Sohaya said government officials present at the meeting could not give responses to issues raised from the meeting because they were ambushed since the agenda of the meeting was not known.
“ I s sue s sur rounding mining companies and communities are more complicated than they may seem on the surface because they touch on a number of issues such as policies. The letter sent to us was vague as such we had no proper consultations on the issues being raised. Therefore, we ask that the meeting be rescheduled to a later day,” Sohaya told the gathering.
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