Malawian Parliamentarians trained on the Southern Africa Resource Barometer

 SARW and SADC-PF training with Parliamentary Committee for Natural Resources and Climate Change

SARW and SADC-PF training with Parliamentary Committee for Natural Resources and Climate Change

Malawian parliamentarians were trained yesterday on how to use the Southern Africa Resource Barometer. The Barometer was created to help parliamentarians effectively oversee the extractive industries to ensure that natural resources (minerals, timber and oil and gas in particular) benefit all citizens. Malawi’s parliamentarians are vital in overseeing budgeting, managing the legislative process and facilitating engagement with communities and civil society.

Many countries are resource rich but this often does not translate into socio-economic development. As Southern African Resources Watch (SARW) Director, Dr Claude Kabemba, writes,

In recent years, the scramble for access to Africa’s natural resources has intensified, fuelling an economic boom in many mineral-rich countries, particularly in southern Africa – a boom that could have been the driving force behind real socio-economic development.

However, soaring GDP rates have not benefited everyone. Instead, foreign companies and domestic elites have raked in huge profits, while mining communities have been left poorer than before – with their water and air polluted, their environment degraded and their rights violated.

In response to this, African Union Heads of State signed the African Mining Vision (AMV) in February 2009 and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) developed a mining protocol in 1997. To support the efforts of the protocol and the AMV, the Barometer was designed over two years by the SADC Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) and the SARW; it was launched in December 2013.

The Barometer is to be used in two ways (p. 26):

  1. Publish country Parliamentary Reports every year for each SADC country on the state of the extractive sector. The country reports will be consolidated into one Regional Report.
  2. Parliaments will use these principles and guidelines in their day-to-day oversight of the Executive. Members of Parliament will familiarise themselves with these principles and use them along with all the other tools at their disposal, such as committee hearings, requests for documentation, parliamentary debates, etc., to keep a close watch on mining activities to ensure that the country’s mineral wealth benefits the country and all its citizens.

The Barometer includes

  1. General principles and guidelines
  2. Institutional context of resource management
    1. Legislative framework
    2. Capacity for Natural Resource Management
  3. Extractive companies
  4. Negotiation of contracts
  5. Operational phase
    1. Operational principles regarding financing
    2. Operational principles regarding the environment
  6. Labour, working conditions, safety and health issues
  7. Artisanal and small-scale mining
  8. Gender and the extractive industries
  9. Corporate Social Responsibilities
  10. Revenue sharing, transparency and utilisation
  11. Human rights, communities and mining operations
  12. Closure and completion phase

The meeting was opened by the Rt. Honourable Richard Msowoya, Speaker of the National Assembly. He remarked

Our natural resources belong to all of us […] so citizens have a legitimate right to be involved through representatives.

Kabemba and Dr Esau Chiviya, Secretary General of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, also spoke before the training began. Hon. Werani Chilenga, Chair of the Parliamentary Committee for Natural Resources and Climate Change, chaired the training.

Facilitators for sections of the Barometer included: Elyvin Nkhonjera (ActionAid Mining Project Coordinator), Paul Msoma (an independent consultant), Peter Chilumanga (Deputy Director of the Department of Mines), Dr Margaret Sikwese (Director of Strategy and Business Development at the Malawi Institute of Management), and Rachel Etter (Head of Accountability, Policy and Programmes at Citizens for Justice).

SARW tweeted throughout the day:

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