Karonga communities admit miners corrupt

Communities in the area of Paramount Chief Kyungu of Karonga say miners who come to ply their trade in the district are corrupt.

The chief  presenting petition to the coal mining manager. - Photo by Tiwonge Kumwenda
The chief presenting petition to the coal mining manager. – Photo by Tiwonge Kumwenda

Group Village Headman Mweninguwe admitted to Nyasa Times in an interview on Friday that he had been given a “wristwatch and an expensive phone by Nkhayute Coal Mine.”

Nkhayute Coal Mine is owned by a Davie Nyirenda.

 Nyasa Times understands that the handout was given out because communities were demanding clean water and two teachers’ houses.

After sensitization by Church and Society of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia, Our Minerals, Our Responsibilities, the communities demanded that Nkhayute Coal Mine by November 2015.

The mine, Nyasa Times has learnt, started its operations in 2007.

According to the agreement, we have confirmed, the miner was supposed to construct two teachers’ houses at one of the primary schools in the area and a borehole.

To silence the community, the miner gave out the “gifts” to the chief.

Mweninguwe said he “regretted” receiving the items from the miner.

He said he “did not know” he was being “bribed.”

One of the villagers, Regina Njerenji – chair of the Church and Society project being funded by Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) – said they were “frustrated.”

Said Njerenji: “We’re drinking water from  contaminated Towo River when they were supposed to drill a borehole for us.”

She said the chiefs were “happy with CSOs” because they “bribe them.”

Paul Mvula, coordinator of the project, said he was happy their “capacity building initiative was bearing tangible results.”

The project is being implemented through Church and Society with a K70 million funding from OSISA.

The recent discoveries of mineral deposits have promoted the influx of over 100 mining companies operating in the country.

It is expecting that the mining sector whose current contribution to GDP is ten per cent will surpass the 30 per cent contribution of the agriculture sector.

Whilst the phenomenal of the sector brings in the possibility of increased export earnings and other benefit for the country, it is not without challenges.

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