‘Stop the snail’s pace’ - civil society demands reforms to Malawi’s mining and petroleum legislation
Hon Chilenga receives petition at parliament from NRJN demanding govt to ‘Stop the snails pace approach’ on the mines and minerals law pic.twitter.com/xiqy2cqNhX
— Church and Society (@csplivingstonia) May 31, 2017
A PETITION SUBMITTED TO THE SPEAKER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY THROUGH THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES AND CLIMATE CHANGE REGARDING THE DELAYS OF GOVERNMENT TO REVIEW THE MINES, MINERALS PETROLEUM LEGISLATION
DATED 31ST MAY, 2017
We, the members of the Natural Resources Justice Network (NRJN), Publish What You Pay (PWYP) and mining affected Communities, hereby submit our position regarding the delays by Government to review the Mines and Minerals Act and Oil and Petroleum Act to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Members of Parliament and Development Partners.
We want to congratulate His Excellency, Prof. Arthur Peter Muthalika, the President of the Republic of Malawi for ably presenting a positive and important State Of the Nation Address (2017/18 SONA), in which he reiterated the significance and development of the mining sector and the need to review the Mines and Minerals Act of 1981 and align it to the Mines and Minerals Policy. We therefore, like to commend Government for putting efforts to reform the Mining and Natural Resources Sector. We would also commend Government for joining the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)- a transparency and accountability tool for the extractives sector. It is the first time that we have heard a Government in bringing out mining contracts to the public.
However, we have lately learnt with sadness that the Mines and Minerals Bill will not be tabled in the current parliamentary sitting. This is not encouraging.
We have also seriously noted that there is non existence of the Political Will to expedite the revision of the Mines and Minerals Act. A mystifying fact is, Government is still issuing licenses and mining operations while using these outdated Laws.
For the current outdated Laws we feel:
- Has deprived citizens’ right to development as enshrined in the Constitution of Malawi
- The present Law could go further to ensure greater revenues from companies and to ensure company accountability to Government, the environment and Malawian citizens
- The present Law does not promote trickle down of benefits to the Communities and the nation as a whole. It still vests the resources in the “Life President” among many other shortfalls.
- The Current Law also promotes Secrecy with minimal transparency and Accountability. Secrecy surrounding the contracts and licenses agreed between Governments and Mining Companies presents a serious accountability gap for most resource rich countries including Malawi. Whilst these documents in which rights and obligations are contained are not disclosed, huge deals can be made for public resources with little or no public scrutiny, opening the possibility for corruption and mismanagement.
- With the sector’s regulatory framework in a state of flux, it means it is difficult to guarantee unity of purpose and direction including ensuring transparency, accountability, consistency, predictability and fairness. It renders the entire framework and the Extractive Industry susceptible to capture by vested interests, fraud and corruption which undermines its overall integrity. The fact that although these challenges are widely recognized but efforts to reform the institutional and legal framework proceeds at a snail’s pace suggests that the sector might as well already be captured by vested interests and is a hotspot for fraud and corrupt activities.
- The mining sector has not kept pace with the rapid modernization of mining codes as have other countries in Africa. The mining legislation needs to be positioned to improve efficiency, transparency and sustainability of the sector in tandem with policy reform.
- While the Mines and Minerals Policy 2013 is very recent, a number of policy issues need to be addressed or elaborated further to facilitate equitable participation by local Malawians, communities and other stakeholders in mining activities. The adopted Mines and Minerals Policy may likely as of now gather dust on the shelves due to lack of a conducive legal environment.
- Even our legislation governing the oil and gas sector is also outdated. In as much as this may not be tabled now, it is imperative that this petition make incidental reference to it due to its vitality and closeness to the topic at hand.
We the members of NRJN therefore, being mindful of our mandate to act as a stabilizing buffer within the equation of checks and balances that determine the dynamics of power as well as acknowledge our role as guardians of democracy, do hereby submit our positions with regard to the legislation and that it be tabled within the current sitting of Parliament. We believe that these irregularities can change and should change if Malawi is to benefit from its God given resources particularly by putting together an effective, up to date legal framework that responds to the current legal gaps that have led to the loss of the expected benefits.
WHAT WE WANT:
Expedite the process now! Stop the Snail’s Pace Now! Maximize revenues from extractives Now! A Total Political Transformation and Not Business As Usual Now! Amend whilst we don’t have active mining taking place.
We would like to remind the Government that in 2009 we adopted the African Mining Vision at African Union meetings. The African Mining Vision clearly spells out how resources can be extracted and used: “Transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources to underpin broad-based sustainable growth and socio-economic development”. Do the Petroleum Act and other significant laws such as the 2016 Environment Management Act ensure Malawi lives up to the African Mining Vision?
We want to make it crystal clear that these bills are not Political Tools but rather Developmental tools for citizenry. Our key message, we should have the Mines and Minerals Act duly repealed or updated to incorporate all the aspirations of Malawians, table it, pass it and operationalize it. It is our considered view that this is the only way that will help to achieve the required sustainable development we have always wished which eventually lead Mining for Development and not for consumption.
Secondly, expedite the development of Petroleum Production Policy and also amend the 34 year old Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act 1983.Without proper Laws in place that will put will put the interests of Malawians, then leave Oil and Minerals in the ground. We must put our house in order first
Kossam Jomo Munthali
Board Chairperson-Natural Resources Justice Network
Representatives of Affected Mining Communities in Malawi
- Nazario Linyenga, Ntcheu
- Josta Namonde, GVH Maoni, Thundulu-Phalombe
- Benya Likawa, Balaka
- John Nkhata, Kanyika/Mzimba
- Joyce Gondwe, Kayelekera,Mwabulambo/Karonga
- Kenneth Mbewe, Mangochi
Members of NRJN
- Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace
- Church and Society Programme CCAP Synod of Livingstonia.
- Ufulu Wathu
- Norwegian Church Aid
- CCJP Karonga Diocease
- Mabulabo community based organisation
- Uraha foundation
- Malawi women association in mining (MAWIMA)
- Mgodi Ltd