EITI success must be backed by supportive legal framework
It is an undeniable fact that Malawi has made tremendous progress in its strides to join the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI).
Such progress is vivid in the fact that the country has presented the first ever EITI report to the secretariat of the global network in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, which is a great achievement on the EITI process.
We, at Mining & Trade Review, join the State President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, who made the commitment for Malawi to join the grouping in his maiden state of the nation address in 2014, the government, stakeholders in the extractives sector and all Malawians in celebrating the achievement.
We find this as a worthwhile achievement since there has been a lot of talk, especially from civil society groups, that Malawians are not adequately benefiting from the country’s mineral resources because deals in the sector are always shrouded by a veil of secrecy.
As the Chairman for Natural Resources Justice Network (NRJN), Kossam Muthali, is quoted in our lead article, with EITI, the secrecy which breeds corruption and mismanagement in the Extractives Industries will have little space.
He also says the EITI reports will provide communities with information that will empower them to question how revenues from the minerals extracted in their respective areas are being utilised.
However, the NRJN Chair recommends that Malawi’s joining of the EITI must be accompanied by enactment of supporting legislation.
We agree with Munthali’s recommendations and want to urge the government to expedite the process to enact the new Mines and Minerals Bill.
It is surprising that despite assurance by Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Bright Msaka, there is still no sign that the bill will be brought for debate in parliament soon.
The government must, therefore, know that by delaying the enactment of the new Mines and Minerals Law, it is being unjust to Malawians who contributed in the consultation process for the formulation of the new law.
Certainly, a sane person would ask why the government finds it appropriate to continue using an archaic piece of legislation to manage the mineral resources sector.
Is it that there are some interested politicians in the ruling clique who are benefitting from the current status quo by exploiting loopholes that are known to exist in the old law?
Such questions will keep on lingering in the minds of members of the public as long as the government keeps on delaying the process to adopt the new law.
These questions are capable of scotching the image of the government which has won applause for enacting the Access to Information Bill which is another crucial piece of legislation for the country to succeed in the EITI process.
This piece was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 50 (June 2017).