Malawi govt official soliciting bribes from Paladin: Miner dismisses upcoming protests

A top government official is being accused of soliciting bribes from uranium miner, Paladin Energy and has resorted in fermenting trouble by inciting the community to hold demonstrations near Kayelekera Mine in northern region border district of Karonga.

Nyasa Times sources said a very top government official who is also top official in the ruling People’s Party (name withheld for now) has been putting pressure to the Paladin bosses to be depositing a million  US dollar  a month in his account.

Paladin has been refusing to meet the demands.

According to reliable source, the official has been putting pressure to the company, claiming the money will be going to President Joyce Banda. Apparently, President Banda is not aware of the move to solicit bribes in her name.

Kayelekera Uranium Project in Malawi

While the official and his agent have been sorting out demands for bribery, Paladin has put its foot down to honour such demands.

The official is said to be 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.

The 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.

Chairperson of Karonga Business Community, Wavisanga Silungwe and publicity secretary for Karonga Youth for Justice and Development is unhappy at Paladin Energy’s corporate social responsibility undertakings, saying the company should “give back to the people of Karonga what belongs to them.”

Such claims included assertions that Paladin imported rice to feed its workforce rather than buying locally, which Paladin said it did not do, as well as that the company discriminated against local suppliers in food tendering.

“This is definitely not the case as 23 local groups – including nine widows’ co-operatives – supply food to the Kayelekera operations. Paladin regards this as one of its success stories in CSR and currently, 70% of all Kayelekera food is sourced from within Malawi,” the company said in a statement signed by John Borshoff its managing director.

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.

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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