Government shuns mining meeting
The government has come under fire for shunning the opening of the Third Alternative Mining Indaba taking place in Lilongwe from Monday to Tuesday.
During the meeting, held under the theme ‘Transforming Malawi’s Natural Resources into Sustainable Development’, stakeholders are discussing different problems rocking the country’s mining sector.
But officials from the Ministry of Natural Resource, Energy and Mining failed to turn up for the opening of the meeting apparently because they were busy with other businesses.
With mining billed to be Malawi’s game changer when it comes to economic development in the face of dwindling returns from the agriculture sector, government officials are expected to take a meeting discussing mining exploits very seriously, according to Natural Resources Justice Network (NRJN) Chairperson, Cossam Munthali.
“You cannot transform the natural resources, the Agenda 2063 if people themselves are not transformed, so the starting point, particularly in the mining sector, is that we need to have right people in the right positions.
“From the testimony today, in the event that you cannot have any person from the Department of Mines; they keep on changing tunes; they are always up and down globe-trotting whilst this communication was on their desk for three weeks. It is very unfortunate,” an audibly disappointed Munthali said.
He added that the country’s Mines and Minerals Act of 1981 is outdated and that it is only when officials are willing to have it transformed that things can work.
Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) Country Director Stein Villumstad, whose organisation is involved in transforming the mining industry alongside others like Oxfam, said dialogue among different stakeholders is key to avoiding disagreements.
“Extractive industries should be a win-win situation for investors, workers, local communities, government and Malawi at large. Dialogue should be a basic approach, while being mindful that dialogue is not without tensions and genuine disagreements,” he said.
On his part, Oxfam Country Director, John Makina, urged the government to follow up on recommendations from the past Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) report which is aimed at improving how the sector operates.
“We would appreciate more if the government could take some time to look at anomalies in the report and address them before the next reporting in April 2018,” Makina said.
Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining spokesperson, Sangwani Phiri, said in an interview yesterday that the mining conference’s first day coincided with a tree planting exercise presided over by President Peter Mutharika; hence, the absence of the ministry’s officials at the opening of the conference.
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