Malawi businesses who benefit from Paladin's Kayelekera mine

While Karonga minority vocal groups and local businesses are unhappy at Paladin Energy’s corporate social responsibility undertakings, Nyasa Times investigations shows that local businesses do benefit significantly from supply contracts with Kayelekera Mine.

According to the Development Agreement , the miner  should provide opportunities  to  “legitimate  established businesses  in  Malawi”  to  tender  to  supply  materials, equipment and services to Kayelekera Mine which meets the specifications of the invitation to tender; is competitive in cost with international sources; meets the delivery requirements of the Project; meets the quality requirements of the Project; and is bona fide.

Nyasa Timesinvestigations can reveal that Clause 5.1 (a) of the Development Agreement also obliges the Paladin to assist in establishing or expanding Malawian businesses that may be capable of providing goodsand services to the mine, but such businesses must be uncompetitive with another non-Malawian supplier.

Most of the chemical reagents are not manufactured in Malawi and the mine had very little success insourcing from commercially viable Malawian suppliers.

A number of Malawian businesses are currently supplying various products and services, such as: Blue Waters Car Hire (Karonga), Fikupana Investment (Karonga), Peters Freight (Karonga), Kachikoti Investments (Karonga), Anasingo Trading (Karonga), Chiku Investment (Karonga), Zipanganani Investment (Karonga).

The Karonga business group notes that Kayelekera Mine does not give transport contracts to local transporters but evidence uncovered by Nyasa Times reveals that the suppliers of chemical reagents and diesel are ordered to site delivery hence the responsibility of transportation rests with the supplier.

Some very hazardous chemical reagents like hydrogen peroxide are supposed to be transported by specialized vehicles which are not locally available in most cases.

Karonga businesses association calls for procurement of foodstuffs from local suppliers a thing which Paladin has said is already happening.

“Malawi businesses were late last year invited to participate in a request for proposal for the supply of perishable and various food items.  The process was handled by the company auditors Ernst & YoungMalawi who opened and vetted all the 60 applicants resulting in 26 suppliers (23 from Karonga) and three from Lilongwe,” Paladin states.

Paldin says  “23 local groups – including nine widows’ co-operatives – supply food to the Kayelekera operations.”

Evidence uncovered shows the following Karonga based businesses  benefiting from the foodstuff contracts at the mine: Andy’s Investments, Karonga Fresh Veggie Suppliers,   Munduwabo General Dealers,  TwandyGeneral Dealers,  Chimwemwe Model Horticultural Club,  Kabale Widows Group,  Tutulane Palikimo,  LusekeroWidows Group and Wakisa Widows Group.

Others are  Chimwemwe Widows Group,  Mwenlilondo Widows Group,  GoodSamaritan Widows Group, Ngala Widows Group, Wiliro Widows Group, Katwaff Traders, Karo Enterprises, YinuYinu Investments, Karonga Poultry Farmers Association, Hina Supermarket, Tiyezge Poultry Club, KologwaPoultry Club, Bonga Mart.

But chairperson of Karonga Business Community, Wavisanga Silungwe and publicity secretary for Karonga Youth for Justice and Development wants  the company to “give back to the people of Karonga what belongs to them.”

Paladin pointed out that it had contributed a total of $48-million to local suppliers and paid $9.6-million in various forms of taxes to the Malawi government.

Meanwhile, Paladin (Africa) Limited General Manager for International Affairs, Greg Walker responded to the e-mails by the Karonga Business Community’s chairperson who requested for an audience with the mining company.

Walker said Paladin will seek to comply with any reasonable and timely request for a meeting made by members of the community, but said the company “is not disposed to complying with such requests when they are accompanied by threats [of demonstration].”

Reads the letter in part: “Following your meeting in August with the Vice President, Hon. Khumbo Kachali MP and various Ministers, I delivered a submission to the Vice President’s Office and subsequently to the Minister for Energy and Mining, Dr. Cassim Chilumpha MP, providing detailed factual information to correct the misinformation and address the various erroneous allegations contained in your statements.”

“Last week, Dr. Chilumpha informed the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that that he was engaged in investigating the various claims made by you and Mr Mwakasungula. As you initiated this action – without seeking prior dialogue with the Company, I might add – I think we should now show the Honourable Minister the courtesy of allowing him the time necessary to complete his investigations before contemplating any meeting,” the letter added.

Nyasa Times learnt that a top government official – whose efforts to solicit bribes has hit a blank wall – is inciting small local nongovernment organisations; Karonga Youth for Justice and Development, Tutulane Palikimo Business Associations and Karonga Business Community to block an access route to Kayelekera Mine at Mpata, specifically at Mwesha Bridge at 7:30am on Wednesday, the 14th of November, 2012.

Malawi Police Force has advised that any attempt to block the highway would be unlawful and necessary steps will be taken to ensure the public access is not restricted.

The uranium miner said it does not expect the protest to have any material impact on operations however it also maintains adequate stocks of diesel and necessary reagents on site to mitigate the risk of supply disruptions due to weather or other reasons.

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