The Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources will from June this year starting visiting mining companies as one way of exercising its oversight role.
Committee chairperson Werani Chilenga, who was speaking in an interview Wednesday, said they have planned to date Kayerekera Mine, which was acquired by Lotus in Karonga District, and Mchenga Coal Mine in Rumphi District.
Chilenga said they would have embarked on the exercise early this month but committee members were attending to other issues.
“Committee meetings have already started but we, as the Natural Resources Committee, will start visiting [mining companies] from the first week of June on a scheduled Parliament-funded meeting.
“During those meetings, we tend to take some field trips, of course. As for now [before June], we have some engagements which we want to finalise before going out and visiting the mining companies,” he said.
Chilenga said they had decided to start with visits to Lotus and Mchenga mines because there are issues that the committee would want to understand.
“We will travel to Kayerekera because, since Lotus came in, we do not know what they are doing. We just hear that they are here; so, we, as a committee, want to go there and verify because, from then up to now, nothing is happening. We will also pass by Mchenga Coal Mine,” he said.
Chilenga also clarified that these are scheduled parliamentary committee meetings, which are done quarterly.
He was commenting on allegations raised by Natural Resources Justice Network, which claimed that some members of Parliament were involved in ‘double dipping’ when they visit mining companies.
“These meetings are funded by the Treasury through Parliament and are budgeted for. So, what we usually do is to ask for transport from Parliament, like in this case when we will be going to Karonga and Rumphi. We will book a coaster from Parliament… We are the ones who are requesting that we should go there and play our oversight role and see what they are doing.
“So, there is nothing like double dipping; it is a misconception,” he said.