Malawi fights graft in minerals sector – Mining Review (October 2014)

The piece “Malawi fights graft in minerals sector” featured below was initially published in Malawi’s Mining Review Issue Number 17 2014 that was circulated in October 2014.

To learn more about this quarterly publication, edited by Marcel Chimwala, read the post about the “Voice of the mineral sector in Malawi”.

Front page of the Mining Review (Issue No. 17, October 2014, Marcel Chimwala)

Front page of the Mining Review (Issue No. 17, October 2014, Marcel Chimwala)

Malawi fights graft in minerals sector

By Marcel Chimwala

Malawi has stepped up its efforts to root out corruption in the minerals sector and ensure sustainable growth of the high-corruption-risk sector for the benefit of the country’s economy. Deputy Director for the country’s graft busting body, the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB), Reyneck Matemba, said when he officially launched a workshop to kickstart the Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Campaign in the extractive industry that the Bureau is engaging the civil society and other stakeholders to intensify the fight against corruption and ensure sustainable growth of the minerals sector, which is high on the government priority areas.

PWYP, which encourages players in the minerals sector to announce revenue generated from their projects, is a civil society initiative aimed at ensuring transparency and accountability in the sector. Matemba said the PWYP concept is in tandem with government’s efforts to promote transparency and accountability in the minerals sector. Said Matemba:

We are all aware that State President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, right from his inauguration, stresses the importance of good governance, transparency and accountability. He has singled out the mining sector as a potential growth sector in a bid to diversify the economy away from overreliance on agriculture and to broaden sources of foreign exchange revenues. In singling out the mining sector, he has also stressed the wish of his Government to facilitate the promotion of transparency through among other things joining the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI).

He also called upon civil society groups to collaborate with agencies such as the ACB, Human Rights Commission and Parliament in enhancing transparency and accountability in the minerals sector.

We need to capitalize on the political will that has been expressed by the President in using it to ensure we lay a good foundation and engage with Government to translate the rhetoric into tangible action on the ground that would lead to a transparent, accountable and corrupt free mining sector which we can bequeath to generations to come for a better Malawi

said Matemba. He pointed out that promoting transparency and accountability reduces corruption, which is still a serious challenge in Malawi as confirmed by the recent Governance and Corruption survey as well as the Afro barometer survey. Matemba said with the proliferation of mining activities, Malawi has to be vigilant in the fight against corrupt activities because corruption in the minerals sector has a devastating impact on society.

Not only does corruption worsen poverty, but it also erodes the rule of law, leads to political instability and conflicts, damages the environment as enforcement and monitoring of mining activities are left unchecked due to bribery of Government officials and politicians, erodes trust in Government amongst the citizenry and exacerbates income inequalities

he said. Matemba noted that a number of studies have shown that natural resource dependence is highly correlated with disappointing economic growth, inequality and onset of civil conflict. In this vein, the World Bank has cited that mining and oil production in developing countries are having profound impact on the natural environment and rights on marginalized groups. Matemba, however, said across this continent there are also examples of countries where this picture has been avoided. He said

For Malawi, we have had at least a test of whether mining can be of benefit or not and what sort of things needs to be done right already with the experience of the Kayelekera project. We have sufficient lessons both locally and internationally to enable us do things right. The fact that in Malawi we may have come late into the game of mining should be a blessing in disguise because we have the opportunity to learn both the positive lessons from those countries that have benefited from mining and negative lessons from those that have mismanaged and not benefitted from it. The same point was alluded to by the state President when he returned from the SADC Summit recently in Victoria Falls.

The PWYP campaign and Malawi’s EITI interventions are backed by the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) through financial and technical support. A local civil society organisation, Citzens for Justice (CFJ), is coordinating the PWYP campaign and Board Chairperson for CFJ Margaret Sikwese, who also spoke at the launch of the workshop, thanked GIZ for its support saying the support has enabled Malawians to see the dream of globally established PWYP and EITI interventions becoming a reality in Malawi.

Today marks yet another important milestone in the civil society’s concerted effort to strengthen advocacy towards meaningful transparent and accountable governance in relation to revenue emanating from extractive industries in Malawi; and I must challenge all civil society leaders present here to use this as a platform to meaningfully engage government and industry players.

She said. Since the founding of the PWYP Coalition in 2002 by the global civil society community led by Global Witness to tackle the ‘resource curse’, the coalition has over the years grown to become a truly global network comprising as many country-level civil society coalitions. Malawi’s neighbouring countries namely Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania as well as Zimbabwe already have formally established PWYP Coalitions and campaigns.

It, therefore, becomes imperative that Malawi does not continue to remain behind on formalising this indispensable initiative for national socio-economic development. I am happy that we are gathering here today for this important common cause,

said Sikwese. Efforts to establish the PWYP coalition and campaign in Malawi started way back in 2010 but it only existed as a smaller and loose grouping of CSOs. The aim of the workshop, therefore, was to launch it as a formal and regularised civil society institution, which will help to collectively and effectively engage Government, industry and communities on EITI.

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