Malawi’s new Mining Minister launches the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

MWEITI Launch, Dean Lungu, Ben Botolo, Aggrey Masi, Kossam Munthali

Today diverse stakeholders all with an interest in Malawi’s extractive sector gathered to formally launch the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)in Malawi and the first report.

The new Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Hon Aggrey Masi MP launched the report with this speech (see the video below – apologies for the quality and cutting off the beginning!).

Grain Malunga, Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) Member for Paladin, traced Malawi’s EITI journey and shared the results from the first report.

Dean Lungu, President of the Chamber of Mines and Energy, shared in congratulations for the report and remarked that the Chamber is celebrating its first year anniversary.

Transparency is key to understanding a very, very, very misunderstood industry, particularly when the industry is in a very nascent stage. […] Through MWEITI, conflict that has beleaguered the sector shall be an issue of the past.

The sector has always been looked upon with a very suspicious eye because when you are doing exploration they think you are making money. […] I can assure you Honorable Minister that the Chamber is working tirelessly for dialogue between business, government, communities and civil society.

We believe it is a win-win solution. We are encouraged that the MSG has worked with a very clear, trusted and transparent objective.

Lungu went on to discuss constraints facing the sector particularly in limited and unreliable access to electricity. He also urged the Minister to ensure the Mines and Minerals Bill is passed.

It has been on the table for quite some time. […] Investors are hesitant to come when working with something that is 36 years old. I do not see why the Bill cannot be enacted as soon as possible.

Kossam Munthali, MSG Member and Chair of the Natural Resources Justice Network, echoed Lungu’s plea to pass the Mines and Minerals Bill. His full speech is copied below.

Finally, the Deputy Head of Mission for Germany in Malawi, Thomas Staiger, commended the government’s commitment to transparency and accountability in the extractive sector through EITI. He remarked that it is a step ahead of Germany which joined EITI after Malawi. He pointed out several important contributions of EITI: stronger tax collection systems that address tax avoidance and evasion, good financial governance, better environment for investment, and greater public accountability and access to information.

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You can download the 1st MWEITI report here: http://mweiti.gov.mw/resources/mweiti-reports/

I have also written three short pieces on the first report:

SPEECH BY THE NATURAL RESOURCES JUSTICE NETWORK (NRJN) CHAIRPERSON,  KOSSAM JOMO MUNTHALI  DURING THE LAUNCH OF MWEITI REPORT AT BINGU INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE (BICC) IN LILONGWE ON THE 25TH JULY, 2017

Our guest of honour, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning; Hon. Goodall Gondwe,

Development Partners;

Distinguished Guests,

Fellow Members of the Civil Society,

Members of the Media,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Morning;

In the first place, I would like to thank God Almighty for our presence here, to our MWEITI Report launch. It’s good to see so many of you here to mark this grand achievement. I would like to extend a special welcome to Our Guest of Honour,  Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Hon  Goodall Gondwe.

I would also like to convey my gratitude to all stakeholders in EITI MSG, for their tireless and selfless efforts into making this project a reality. Without their professional dedication, this project would not have come to term.  And to the Development Partners and well wishers, I thank you for your kind technical and financial assistance.  I would like  also to take this opportunity to applaud the efforts and sincerely on a personal level and as the Board Chairperson of NRJN congratulate you the MWEITI secretariat,  Mr. George Harawa and your team, job well done; On a lighter note,  I think next time we will hear that you have elevated to higher positions in recognition of your good performance in this particular assignment;  just to put it on record that your team Hon. Minister understands now what CSO engagement is all about in terms of providing critical and constructive input. We have often been misunderstood as a difficult group of people but  I can confidently mention that we are not; we realise that part of our role is to support govt in providing checks and balances which other people may term as the art of providing difference perspectives and different school of thoughts;  it is our hope that mutual cooperation and mutual understanding and more importantly the mutual respect that has been experienced in this exercise shall be embraced and perpetuated by all parties involved to advance the mutual goal which is to serve maximise benefits to all Malawians.

Hon Minstter Ladies and Gentlemen, You may recall that a couple of years ago, His Excellence, The President of Malawi,  Prof. Arthur Peter Muthalika, made a commitment during his acceptance speech after the 2014 elections that he will make sure that, We, as a country join the EITI treaty. Not long ago; Malawi was approved as a member of EITI. Today, We members of the Civil Society proudly join government and the people of Malawi in launching this first ever MWEITI report right here at BICC in Lilongwe.  This is a historic moment to our democratisation process as a country;   and an important event as we are also celebrating 53 Years of Independence.

Your Hon Minister, Ladies and gentlemen, we must all agree that this marks the launch of a new era, a new chapter and a new beginning in the history of the EI in this country. And for that reason, if there is no one to applaud us for this greater achievement please wherever you are seated and whosever is listening to this, it is time as Malawians we must deliberate choose to break our arms as we part ourselves at the back.

I am saying this on behalf of all well meaning Malawians, Your Hon and all CSOs, Please receive my sincere congratulations. Up to this point, we can truly say, we have fought a good fight; we have taken a giant step towards breaking of the vicious cycle of a suspicious, mistrust, cat and rat relationship that has existed amongst us regarding extraction and utilisation of these scarce national resources.

Am saying this our Guest of Honour Sir, there is no patriotism,  no integrity and no hard work in the presence of mistrust, therefore us as CSO, we call on all Malawians particularly that those who are involved in this Extractive Industry and the Government in general to uphold the spirit of transparency and accountability to its citizens. And this is the so reason of this important occasion of launching the first ever MWEIT Report.

Hon Minister, as we are gathered here, we bear witness to the fact that as a nation, we have now indeed made a reality of our strong intention to have an extractive industry in Malawi that sustainably benefits its citizens; government, investors and future generations. This is yet another milestone for Malawi as we have joined the international community in ensuring that we have an extractive industry that is committed to the promotion of revenue transparency. As civil society we believe that an open and transparent extractive sector Hon. Minister; will create more social; economic and political benefits for Malawi.

MWEITI AND CSO PARTNERSHIP

In the context of development Hon Minister, the civil society is viewed as a “third sector” distinct from government and business that functions as “intermediary institutions” in bringing issues of public interest to the public domain through coordinated advocacy and provide checks and balances throughout the entire process.The primary goal is for such issues to be addressed and implemented to serve the common good.

As CSOs therefore, through our various activities and under the banner of NRJN, strong conviction and our principled position give voice to various voiceless sectors of society, promote public dialogue, debates, discussions and constructive engagements. By our roles, we enrich public participation in decision making thereby strengthening accountability, good governance and promote democratic principles. It is perhaps for these reasons that the concept of EITI is built on the multi stakeholders approach that involves the Govt, Private sectors and the Civil Society (The Magic Triangle). Each of these major stakeholders plays distinct roles in the MWEITI process.

GOOD GOVERNANCE;

Malawi is definitely changing the way in which business is conducted with the EITI model, for the first time ever in Malawi we will be able to access information and data that was in the past taken as sensitive and secret. Hon Minster Sir, Ladies and gentlemen, at this point in time, I will be grossly failing my duties if I don’t acknowledge the commendable role that CSOs in securing both the passing and assent of the ATI Bill into a Law, Now as it turns out, it is of benefit to all Malawians including Govt entities. This important Law underscores the decisive and conscious motive of government in ensuring that there is transparency from government agencies and the private sector; which in turn will help government in making informed decisions and policies.  And it is our hope that the spirit behind that Law shall be upheld by all. Hon Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen, we cannot afford as a Nation to move backwards and betray the aspirations of Malawians by stifling the good Law like this one. The fact that the whole process of EITI has involved the three governance stakeholders in development of the report through the MSG indicates how government wants professional engagement and civic participation in the governance process in Malawi. This report will help NRJN ; and the wider civil society in conducting out oversight roles as major stakeholders  in the sector to continue playing its dutiful role of being agents of change and social mobilisation, public education and enlightment, whistle blowing, our feedback to our constituencies, effective participation in our MSG etc. We believe that our efforts under the Publish What You Pay Campaign and Tax Justice that we have been advocating for will be eased with the coming of this important document.

CIVIC EMPOWERMENT

Hon. Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen; as you may be aware, the CSO together with other major stakeholders undertook the responsibility to learn the international standards that are being practiced across the world in the sector.  The report currently will provide a starting point for CSOs and citizens in the quest of holding their duty bearers accountable, promoting and protecting their right to development as indicated in the constitution. However, we urge you as the Champion to ensure that this report goes to all Councils, kept at local level for policy reforms in line with its outlined recommendations.  Currently our assessment indicates that citizens want to know various issues from this EITI report; this includes among others :

– The companies that are complying and those that are not

– Tax gaps and discrepancies and Accuracy of data

– Social payments, benefits for communities

-Cooperation of companies, government and civil society

-Contributions to the economy by the sector

-The type of minerals being mined and Employment Rates

-Modality of awarding contracts

Hon Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen, you will agree with me that the issues raised above are pertinent to enhance grass root participation and bring about a lot of sense in the report.  We humbly request your Hon to convey our appeal to relevant authorities to learn from this EITI model and it is our sincerely wish and commitment as CSOs to have all recommendations implemented in totality for policy reforms that will eventually trickle its benefits down to all Malawians.

Your Hon, once again, we humbly implore on you as our Champion that this report shall not join those other reports that we hear are gathering dust in the shelves of our Capital Hill. We will keenly and eagerly play our role in the whole cycle (design, implement and monitor) and finally follow up with You Sir.

Hon Minister Ladies and Gentlemen, Lets all be reminded that all the anticipated benefits outlined in this report can only be realised if the operations of the Industries in question are backed by the updated and relevant Law. This is our further reminder to the Government to expedite the amendment and eventually putting such a Law in place otherwise we would be singing the same old song and exposing Malawians to further vulnerability and self made poverty.

As civil society we have been advocating for contracts to be made public for many years. Through EITI the government has made public agreements it has signed with Paladin, Nyala Mines, RAK Gas and Pacific Oil. We want to call on the government to make transparent the process around the renegotiation of addendum to the oil and gas agreements and to allow corruption investigations to be concluded. We also would like the Government to make public its position on oil and gas exploration in and around Malawi’s World Heritage Site Lake Malawi National Park.’

As you are fully aware that we petitioned Parliament on 31st May 2017 to expedite the passing of the same Law in and we are assured that Parliament is tabling in the next sitting. We are waiting patiently.

Hon Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen, the promise of the benefits uncovered in this report are compelling, imperative and dictate that the creation of an enabling legal environment is not only admirable and urgent but also morally binding to those that hold the power to redeem the poor Malawians. In short it cannot wait any longer.

With these few remarks if at all, I would like to wish you Hon. Minister and your government a wonderful day, let’s keep in touch and continue engaging.

God Bless you all and God bless Malawi.

Thank you for your attention.

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One response to “Malawi’s new Mining Minister launches the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

  1. Pingback: Malawi’s Mining, Oil and Gas News #28: July 2017 | Mining in Malawi·

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