Karonga business people for Competition Bill

The Karonga Business Association (KABA) has asked government to enact the Competition Act as a matter of urgency to curb issues of monopoly thereby levelling the business environment.

For instance, the Association said it was unfair to have Simama General Dealers being a sugar distributor, transporter, wholesaler, and retailer for the whole northern region.

They also blamed Illovo Sugar Company for allowing such a monopoly to run for 15 years now adding that the unwillingness of Simama General Dealers to sub contract is both unfair and inhuman.

“When the Competition law is passed such monopolies will die a natural death because we will seek redress in courts,” the Association’s Chairperson Chagunyuka Mhango said.

Minister of Trade John Bande inspecting a shop

The Association, registered in 2010, is an umbrella of all businesses in Karonga and told journalists that its bona fide Chairperson is Chagunyuka Mhango and not Wavisanga Silungwe.

Silungwe, whom the Association said is not even its member, has been making various pronouncements in the press on behalf of the Karonga Business Association purporting to be its Chairperson.

The media went to Karonga to seek an audience with the Association following their recent meeting with Malawi’s Vice President Khumbo Kachali and Finance Minister Ken Lipenga, Energy Minister Cassim Chilumpha, Industry and Trade Minister John Bande and Economic Planning and development Minister Atupele Muluzi on August 9th 2012.

Business with Paladin

The Association also said they told Kachali and the ministers about their displeasure at the lack of business opportunities for locals from Paladin Energy Limited, parent company of Kayelekera Uranium Mine.

The Association is also not happy about the company’s decision to relocate its procurement office to South Africa saying it is evidence of the company’s shunning of local businesses.

“Paladin promised to engage us as transporters, food suppliers and other services. They also promised to empower local businesses with resources so that they could ably do business with the company. This is all contained in the Business Development Agreements Paladin signed with government,” said the Association’s Treasurer John Phiri.

Phiri said it does not make sense for Paladin to buy food stuffs from South and Namibia.

“ We have plenty of rice, chickens, beef, pork, eggs and milk not only in Karonga but in Malawi. The company has not explained to us why it has reneged on the Business Development Agreement. We suspect some expatiates working at Paladin have connived with their colleagues in South Africa and Namibia,” he said.

Wakisa Mwenifumbo, who l ed the Malawi team that successfully negotiated and drafted , the Business Development Agreement, confirmed Paladin’s commitment to development local businesses by way of building their capacity so that they ably do business with the company.

On transportation of goods, Association said they already proved their capability and efficiency to Paladin, when they were engaged by Coronation Mining to haul more than 10,000 metric tonnes of lime.

“We did the job on time and without any loss of goods. Now they are taking Zambian and South African transporters. Paladin is not spending money on the Karonga community and at the end of the day will not benefit if the mines closes in ten years time,” said the Association’s Secretary Wakisa Mwenifumbo.

Mwenifumbo said mineral wealth should benefit the indigenous people saying mineral extraction cannot be replenished.

Paladin Energy Limited General Manager-International Affair Greg Walker is on record as having said that “There are no promises made by Paladin which have not been fulfilled,”

Walker said there was nothing new on the issues the Karonga Business Community raised adding that the matters the raised have been dealt with before.

“Specifically we do buy food from local vendors. We do advertise tenders (including food). Malawi is unable to supply sulphur and lime (we have investigated this option) and there are no promises made by Paladin which have not been fulfilled,” Walker said.

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