Members of Parliament from the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change gathered last week (5 February 2015) to reflect on the Natural Resources Justice Network’s (NRJN’s) position on Malawi’s policy and legal framework for mining. The event was organised to provide guidance on and push for the tabling of the new Mines and Minerals Act.
Over the last 6 months, the Government of Malawi, through the Mining Governance and Growth Support Project (funded by a World Bank loan and EU grant), has reviewed the Mines and Minerals Act, which dates back to 1981. According to the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change, Hon. Werani Chilenga MP, the Committee will be given the draft mining law to review during the first week of March. This means that the earliest the bill can be tabled is at the next sitting of parliament (June/July 2015).
The NRJN’s position was developed by the network’s 33 civil society organisations last year. It addresses the following elements in the legal and regulatory framework “to enable the sector [to] contribute significantly to sustainable social and economic development”:
- Mining fiscal environment and taxation regime
- Mineral administration and development systems
- Environmental management
- Resettlement and compensation
- Women and mining
- Corporate social responsibility
- Integrating the mining sector in the domestic economy
- Safety, health and social welfare
- Artisanal and small-scale mining
- Mineral beneficiation and mineral marketing
- Research and development
- Human resources development in the mining sector
- Oil and gas
The position paper is available here: Natural Resources Justice Network Position on the Policy and Legal Framework for Mining in Malawi.
The dinner meeting held at the Sunbird Capital Hotel in Lilongwe was organised by the Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy (CEPA) and also included parliamentarians from the Budget Committee as well as the media and civil society representatives. The purpose of the evening was to disseminate the mining policy position, to discuss the status of the Land Bill and to address the 2014/2015 national budget mid-year review as the parliament is in session at present. The evening was facilitated by Kossam Munthali, chair of the NRJN.
Citizens for Justice (Rachel Etter), Landnet (Emmanuel Mlaka), and a consultant on behalf of CEPA (Humphrey Mdyetseni) presented. Mlaka called on MPs to quickly review (even rewrite) and pass the Land Bill (Land Act dates back to 1965) and Customary Land Bill (CEPA’s critique of the 2013 Land Bills is available here). Mdyetseni pointed out the low-levels of funding to climate change and disaster risk management related sectors need to be addressed, especially in light of the recent devastating flooding in the south of the country.
Following the three presentations, Members of Parliament responded with questions and statements. Attention was on the extractive industries. Concerns were raised about the (lack of) inclusion of women, child labour in artisanal and small-scale mining, the low levels of value addition, ambiguities around ownership of land, the inability to track government expenditure from mining revenues, and the absence of effective consultation with communities, among others.
Hon. Chilenga and Hon. Commodius Nyirenda MP concluded by providing an update on the Committee’s investigations into the illegal harvesting and export of round wood. The Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining has since released a statement restating the ban.
[Note: Although I presented the NRJN position paper, I was not involved in its development]
The Nation also covered this event, “Parliament to discuss draft minerals act” (Dumbani Mzale, 14 February 2015).