Kanyika court case goes for mediation
By Deborah Manda
The Malawi High Court has referred for mediation a court case in which communities in the area hosting the Kanyika Niobium Exploration Project in Mzimba sued tenement holder Globe Metals and Mining and the Malawi Government claiming compensation and damages.
This is according to an article posted on the website of a regional human rights organization, the Southern Africa Litigation Center (SALC), which is assisting the Kanyika Community in seeking justice on the issue.
SALC, which is jointly working with Livingstonia Synod’s Church and Society, says in the article that it commenced the action in the Malawi High Court on August 28, 2017 but on September, 11 2017, the Attorney General, on behalf of the Malawi Government who are the second defendants in the case filed defence denying the Kanyika Community’s claims and later the first defendants, Globe Metals and Mining followed suite.
In 2006, ASX-listed Globe Metals started prospecting niobium, tantalum and uranium at Kanyika after it was granted an exclusive prospecting licence by the Government of Malawi.
But members of the Kanyika Community claim they were not consulted by either Globe Metals or the Government of Malawi before commencement of operations in the area.
In 2011, Globe Metals, working in collaboration with Mzimba District Council’s office, entered into negotiations and consultations for the resettlement of the Kanyika Community and the payment of compensation for any loss and damage occasioned to the Community as a result of the implementation of the project.
Globe Metals said it would resettle all members of the Kanyika Community adversely affected by their operations by the year 2012 (the ‘resettlement undertaking’) and compensate any loss and damage suffered as a result of the project,
The Mzimba District Council is reported to have given assurances to the Kanyika people that it would ensure they were paid compensation and relocated from the Kanyika Area by the year 2012 which has not been done to this day.
In return the Kanyika Community significantly laid off the use of their land, ceased long term activities such as the growing and maintenance of perennial crops and ceased maintaining their homes which were marked for demolition by Globe Metals,
the SALC report says.
The article alleges that Globe Metals with the authorisation, approval and full knowledge of the Mzimba District Council, continued with the project for over five years without paying any compensation to the Kanyika Community and without effecting their resettlement from the Kanyika Area contrary to what had been promised.
Project Manager for Mining Governance at Church and Society of the Livingstonia Synod, Paul Mvula, said he cannot comment much on the issue as it is in court but said that the people of Kanyika deserve better as they have suffered a lot from the effects of the mineral exploration activities, which involved drilling works.
Mvula said the Kanyika people’s right to dignity has greatly been violated and it is high time government became very responsible with regard to the plight of communities around mining activities in Malawi.
The Kanyika Community consists of 1042 individuals – and their forefathers have occupied and used the customary land in the area since time immemorial; growing seasonal and perennial crops, rearing animals, residing within the area and maintaining cemeteries and burial sites to which they attach great sentimental, religious and cultural value.
An important river which they rely on for their water supply needs also passes through the prospecting area.
This piece was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 60 (April 2018).