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Malawi in breach of mining conduct

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Williams Banda

Malawi is at risk of being suspended from Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Board for failure to meet standards of reporting on extractive industry activities.

The revelation comes as the government, through Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (Mweiti), has sent its annual report to Oslo, Norway— where the Eiti Board sits— without the input of civil society organisations (CSOs).

Malawi Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (Mweiti) Coordinator Catherine Chilima confirmed the development.

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Treasury spokesperson Williams Banda told Malawi News that the report was finalised but not validated by CSOs.

“The national secretariat is always in touch with Oslo. As a matter of transparency, they are always updated on all issues including the Malawi report,” Banda said.

Eiti global standards require that three stakeholders— namely the government, companies and CSOs— validate and approve the reports before they are submitted to the Eiti Board

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We understand that the report was due for submission on December 31 2020.

Meanwhile, Natural Resource Justice Network Chairperson Kosamu Munthali has warned that Malawi risks being suspended if it submits the report without the input of CSOs.

“When a country fails to meet requirements when submitting such reports, it gets suspended from the group.

“However, the Eiti Board is expected to meet in February. Our fear is that they might say the report from Malawi is not fully compliant and, therefore, not accepted. So, when a country fails to submit a report, it gets suspended,” Munthali said.

He added that failure to consult CSOs would also mean the country does not want to be accountable for its activities in the mining sector and, therefore, signals bad governance.

He further said funding for the report was provided for by development partners and not the government.

In 2020, CSOs refused to validate the report; demanding, instead, that Anti-Corruption Bureau officials first investigate corruption allegations involving Department of Mines officials and the Chinese investor in Ilomba Mine in Chitipa District.

Director of Church and Society of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia, Moses Mkandawire, said their demand still stands.

“Our demand is that the Ministry of Mining should respect what was agreed during the Mweiti Multi-stakeholder Group (MSG) meeting. It was agreed in the MSG that the ministry should issue a public statement assuring Malawians that necessary action is being taken on the Ilomba licencing corruption allegations and assuring Malawians that corruption is not and will not be entertained in the ministry. That will demonstrate the commitment of the ministry to dealing with alleged corruption,” Mkandawire said.

He further said Department of Mines’ officials were yet to issue a public statement on the issue, describing the development as unfortunate.

“They are, actually, defying a resolution that was made in the MSG. Of course, CSOs are aware that the ACB is investigating the matter.

“However, this cannot be used as an excuse for not assuring Malawians that the ministry is committed to dealing with allegations of corruption,” Mkandawire said.

Eiti has been commending Malawi for adhering to requirements and making meaningful progress in meeting standards.

Eiti Board gave Malawi an 18-month ultimatum— until August 27 2020— to fulfil requirements relating to extractive industry transparency standards or risk suspension from the global network.

The report was supposed to outline issues such as work-plan, licence register, data comprehensiveness, and quality distribution of revenues, mandatory social expenditures, and outcomes and impact of implementation, expenditures and economic contribution to the industry.

The body said failure to achieve meaningful progress— with considerable improvements across several individual requirements— in the second validation would result in suspension, in accordance with Eiti standards.

Malawi was admitted to Eiti as a candidate-country in October 2015. It has, over the years, produced two annual reports— one covering the period from 2014 to 2015, which was published in June 2017; and the second covering the fiscal year 2015 to 2016 but published in June 2018.

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