Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Member of Parliament for Nkhotakota Central constituency Edwin Banda on Tuesday took to the floor in the National Assembly the controversial deal government entered with uranium miner Paladin, on Karonga’s Kayerekera project.
Two small local nongovernment organisations, Karonga Youth for Justice and Development (KYJD) and Karonga Business Community, had proposed holding a peaceful demonstration near Karonga from November 14 to 17, during which protestors would blockade the M26 public highway, which is an access route to the Kayelekera mine.
But the protests have been cancelled after the groups met the Principal Secretary to the Ministry of Energy and Mines last week where they said they now realise that they’d been misinformed about the mining company’s social obligations in Karonga and blamed the Mutharika administration (2004 to 2009) for not being transparent enough on the Kayerekera Uranium Mine deal.
On Tuesday, contributing to the Business Bill, outspoken lawmaker Banda while urging government to speed up registration process of foreign companies, called for a win-win situation.
“Every legislation by a company coming outside we should share 50-50 in this country,” Banda told the House.
He also told Parliament that Paladin was “milking” Malawians with the Kayelekera deal.
“When are we going to come up with the policy to help Malawians. You are simply waiting for Malawi Congress Party (MCP) to come in government,” said the MP who is also presidential aspirant.
Banda, a trained lawyer said a “50-50 policy should be put into our laws.”
He said while in power, MCP put up MDC, Press Corporation “all these companies were conglomerates meant to carter for Malawians 50-50. This is what MCP will put up.”
But rising on a point of order Energy and Mining Minister Dr. Cassim Chilumpha said “Kayelekera really ought not to be a point to be made with the bill we are raising.”
Chilumpha told the House that government has a mining policy.
“There is a mining policy which will be made available to this august House.”
“By the time we meet next in this house, there will be new mining bill,” said Chilumpha.
Joining the debate was MCP parliamentarian for Lilongwe Mapuyu South , Joseph Njobvuyalema who claimed “some individuals who are in government are enjoying loyalties Kayelekera give to Malawi.”
“I am more than ready to tell the house who are the people enjoying those loyalties,” he challenged.
Recently there were suggestions that Malawi government should renegotiate its deal with Paladin on Karonga’s uranium mine so that the country have a 40 percent equity in the mine from the current 15 percent it gets annually.
But Paladin warned that such tampering will be breach of contract and would have economic consequences on the country.
“A key prerequisite of the very substantial foreign investment in Kayelekera was the signing of the Kayelekera Development Agreement, [which] provided a 10-year stability period to provide comfort to project lenders and shareholders, given Malawi’s lack of track record as a host nation for a major resource investment,” explained Paladin General Manager for International Affairs Greg Walker.
Malawi was required to contribute US$21.75 million to meet its 15 percent proportionate in order to keep the Kayelekera mine open. Likewise, for the 40 percent stake then government would have been required to cough US$58 million.
The Mutharika government refused to take heed of an advice from Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) to negotiate for adequate loyalties and not owning shares.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :