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‘Peter Mutharika to act on illegal miners’

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By Yohane Symon:

NOT AMUSED—Protesters make their feelings known in Mangochi Thursday

President Peter Mutharika has promised to act on concerns people of Mangochi District raised through a petition presented to him last Wednesday, when they expressed concern over the proliferation of illegal mining activities in Makanjira and Namizimu Forest Reserve.

However, the President has fallen short of pegging the activity to a timeframe after the miners asked him to use Malawi Defence Force soldiers to evict miners they accuse of ransacking natural resources and employing school-going children while remitting nothing to the government.

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His spokesperson, Mgeme Kalilani, Monday said Mutharika received the petition a day after it was presented to him through Mangochi District Council.

“[But] there is no timeframe for the action. The people of Makanjira should not worry. The President has heard their concerns and he takes them very seriously,” Kalilani said in an interview.

Spokesperson for the grouping, Dickens Mahwayo, said they are happy that Mutharika is working on their concerns.

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However, Mahwayo said people of Makanjira would have heaved a sigh of relief had the President specified when he would act on the issue, especially because government officials have failed to make good of their promises before.

“We are not against the government or mining activities. What we don’t want is for people to continue mining illegally. We hope the President will act with speed because we do not want more damage to be inflicted on our environment,” said Mahwayo, who is also Mangochi Civil Society Network Vice- Chairperson.

Illegal mining has been taking place in Makanjira and the government-owned Namizimu Forest Reserve in the past two years, posing a threat to the environment as the miners dig trenches and cut trees.

In view of this, the people of Mangochi engaged the government through Ministry of Mining officials who reportedly failed to meet stakeholders’ expectations.

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