The piece “Malawi’s Mines Bill to be tabled in October Parliament sitting” featured below was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 29 2015 that is circulating this September 2015.
The full edition is available for download here. This monthly publication is edited by Marcel Chimwala.
The publication announced its rebranding this month, moving from the Mining Review to the Mining & Trade Review
The decision to rebrand has come about in response to some of our readers from other economic sectors in addition to mining who want to be incorporated as stakeholders.
Mines Bill to be tabled in October Parliament sitting
…shake-up at Department of Mines, as ‘Commissioner for Mines and Minerals’ post is opposed
…Parliamentary Committee proposes establishment of ‘Mining Regulatory Board’
By Chiku Jere
Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change has confided to Mining & Trade Review that Malawi is set to have a new mining law by the end of this year as the long-awaited Mines and Minerals Bill will be tabled during the next sitting of Parliament scheduled for October this year.
Chairperson of the committee, Werani Chilenga, who is also Member of Parliament for Chitipa South, disclosed the development on the sidelines of a Dissemination Workshop on the Assessment of Policy Implementation on mining organised by a local civil society group the Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy (CEPA) at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe on August 11, 2015.
Chilenga said the draft Bill was referred to the committee for their input and they came up with several proposals and recommendations before returning it to government.
The committee engaged private consultants from countries such as Zambia, Botswana and South Africa to assist with expertise. Through their advice, we proposed and recommended several amendments that we feel should be considered in the legislation to perfect it,
he said, adding that they have sent it back to government to incorporate the recommendations.
Among the major proposals the committee put forward is the suggestion to include a diverse of members in the ‘Mineral Resources Committee’ after it was noticed that civil servants were dominating.
Chilenga said the initial draft law proposed that the “Mineral Resources Committee,” should comprise eight principal secretaries and four directors from several ministries and government departments, as well as the Inspect General of the Police, leaving out the civil society, traditional leaders, the legislature and other equally important stakeholders.
We noted this to be an anomaly that needed to be addressed as it could compromise the independence of this all important committee, taking into consideration that civil servants’ decisions could be easily influenced by politicians who run the executive arm of government,
Chilenga also said the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change opposes the creation of the office of the ‘Commissioner for Mines and Minerals’ within the Department of Mines, which, he said, tantamounts to duplication of roles.
This would definitely be duplication of duties. How can we create a department within another department? Just imagine, the Bill says the office of the Commissioner for Mines and Minerals will have its own autonomous budget for its running, including staff recruitment. Can our already strained resources afford such duplication? The committee’s opinion is that the duties designated to the office of the Commissioner for Mines and Minerals can well be handled within the current set-up at the Department of Mines, which has directors and deputies,
According to the draft Bill that Mining & Trade Review has seen, the proposed functions of Commissioner for Mines and Minerals include coordinating the implementation of Mines and Minerals policies, provision of technical advice and guidance in the administration of the Act as well as promotion of mineral sector investment.
The parliamentarian said his committee is proposing the establishment of a ‘Mining Regulatory Board’ that will be playing an oversight role as regards regulating all mining activities.
He reported that government has, meanwhile, engaged other consultants from Tanzania for further scrutiny and advice on the new law.
It is expected that the Bill will be brought back to Parliament for final perusal by the Natural Resources Committee before tabling.
Chilenga has since promised that his committee will take full responsibility of screening the bill, guided by the power vested in them by the law, so that Malawians are given the best ever piece of legislation that will safeguard the interest of the nation.
Meanwhile, the quashing of the proposal in the draft law to establish the office of the Commissioner for Mines and Minerals has triggered a major shake-up within the ranks of Department of Mines.
Charles Kaphwiyo, who was the Commissioner for Mines has now been made Director, with the former Acting Director, Peter Chilumanga, consequently, joining the long list of Deputy Directors at the department.
These changes are being interpreted as an apparent repositioning of chain of command to dodge possible ramifications once the law is passed without the inclusion of the office of Commissioner for Mines and Minerals.
Delivering his closing remarks at the workshop, Board Chairperson for Natural Resources Justice Network (NRJN) Kossam Munthali said the civil society is geared to support the passing of the Bill provided it takes on board sound proposals and recommendations from various stakeholders.
When the Bill is tabled in Parliament with the inclusion of all the input from the civil society as well as other stakeholders, we are prepared to hold vigils right here in the capital city to push for its quick passing into law,
Munthali said, hailing the openness with which government has handled the consultation process as regards the drafting process of the Bill.
The Mines and Minerals Bill, once asserted to by the President and gazetted, will replace the deemed ‘outdated’ 1981 Act, which has been blamed for having loopholes rendering it susceptible to possible corrupt practises and underhand dealings.