Malawi Defence Force to deal with illegal miners
By Wezzie Gausi:
Ministries of Defence and Mining have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will see Malawi Defence Force (MDF) deploying its soldiers to illegal mining hotspots across the country.
Speaking after the signing ceremony in Lilongwe on Wednesday, Defence Minister Harry Mkandawire said his ministry is ready to safeguard the country’s minerals by curbing illegal mining and promoting sustainable mining practices.
“Mining is one of the sectors that can industrialise Malawi as it has direct linkages with agricultural productivity, energy and infrastructure development. My ministry is therefore very ready to play its role.
“Through this MOU, the parties will exercise their rights and perform their obligations in a co-operative, consultative and transparent manner with respect to the arrangements and procedures that have been set out,” Mkandawire said.
His Mining counterpart Monica Chang’anamuno said Malawi is endowed with abundant and diverse mineral resources which can significantly contribute to national economic growth and development.
“It is for this reason that we see the need to give our minerals more protection. My ministry will therefore continue working very closely with security agencies including National Intelligence Service, Malawi Immigration Services, police and MDF in order to curb illegal mining and mineral smuggling in this country, which is why we are all here witnessing this important event today.
“I am pacified that we are now beginning to win the battle against illegal mining, evident from the good number of illegal immigrant buyers who are being arrested and are answering different charges in our courts of law, thanks to the support the Ministry of Mining is always getting from security agencies in this country including MDF,” Chang’anamuno said.
MDF Deputy Commander Paul Phiri said they are ready to deploy and safeguard the minerals.
Phiri said people should not get worried with the presence of soldiers in the communities as they are trained to operate within the law.
“We are very ready to become the government’s watchdogs in safeguarding these minerals and we believe people will see change on the ground,” he said.
Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change Chairperson Werani Chilenga said the MOU has come at the right time when the country is failing to flush out illegal miners from various hotspots across the country.
“We should have done this a long time ago if we really wanted our mineral resources to be protected. Now my appeal is to the judiciary that once these culprits are arrested, the courts should play their role. We need stiff penalties for all offenders,” Chilenga said.
To date, the ministry of mining has formalized 17 mining cooperatives across the country.