Malawi: Civil society and affected communities push for revised mining law to fight corruption, tax avoidance and environmental degradation

Author: Penelope Paliani-Kamanga, The Southern Times, Published on: 12 December 2019

"Malawi losing millions of dollars from illegal mining," 8 November 2019.

Malawi is losing millions of dollars from revenue it could have generated from its diverse mineral resource base through illegal mining by foreigners who have taken advantage of the absence of a legal framework to manage a modern mining industry...the country is still using the Mines and Minerals Act (1981) which is an archaic legislation that was enacted during the one party regime, and vests the control of the country’s resources in the Life President on behalf of the people...

Government failure to address a number of problems, including loss of revenue due to smuggling of minerals, unregulated artisanal and small scale mining activities has pushed locals to take the law into their hands by blocking would-be illegal miners from smuggling the precious stone out of Malawi. A recent incident in Chitipa on the northern tip of Malawi saw communities at Mbirima in the district blocking a Chinese mining firm from collecting mineral samples...The residents said the Chinese claimed they were into joint ventures with local firms. Some residents say the Chinese use Malawians to get licences and leave them in the cold once they get authorisation...

Economic Justice Coordinator for NCA, Thokozani Mapemba, said it was imperative that the country had to enact the revised law as soon as possible because the present legal framework had been rendered ineffective. “Additionally, loopholes in the current law have led to chaotic mining practices, some of which have resulted in environmental degradation with impunity. The country can put a stop to this kind of self-damaging acts by enacting the new law just now and rolling out its enforcement,” said Mapemba...Munthali [NRJN board chairperson] says the present law contravenes the tenets of transparency and accountability as it promotes secrecy on contracts and licenses that are agreed between government and mining companies without public scrutiny...

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