Over 800 angry residents of the Traditional Authority Kilipula in Karonga the northern part of Malawi on Thursday hold demonstrations against Mwawulambo Coal Mine for its failure to respond to their petition which demanded the company to rehabilitate all trenches that came due to its mining activities.
The residents accuse the miners of ignoring their commitments detailed in the Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) in 2013.
Since August 2013, Eland has been under fire for allegedly ignoring the memorandum of understanding which binds it to establish a health centre, expand school and provide safe water as well as electricity to locals affected by mining activity in Mwaulambo.
On 17th August this year, the community from 11 Group Village Headmen such as Mesiya, Mwawulambo, Mwangomba, and Mwanjasi in conjunction with Church and Society Organization of CCAP gave Eland Coal Mine Company a 72 hours ultimatum to start filling its trenches following the allegations that the company has closed the mining site and that the transferring of its equipments is underway.
According to chief Mesiya, the company is taking the people of Karonga for granted as they are also failing to resolve the problems which were caused by its activities.
He warned that within 48 hours if the company still fails to bow down to their demand they will confiscate the company’s remaining equipments.
“When this coal mine started its mining activities in our village in 2007 we thought that our lives will improve due to its social responsibilities that the company was supposed to give us but unfortunately that did not happen but rather they were stealing our resources despite the MOU,” said Mesiya.
“Therefore this is our last warning, after 48 hours if you will not start rehabilitating the Trenches that you have created here, we will come again to confiscate your remaining equipments so that we sell them and the money will help us to do the job you have failed,” lamented angry Mesiya telling the company’s workers.
Mwawulambo Coal Mine Mining Manager Willington Beremauro pleaded with the crowd to extend the period given claiming that the owner of the company is out of the district.
“We indeed received the petition which you wrote to us but we failed to respond because we cannot do that on our own especially because the owner of the company is yet to be in the district as such when he will be here everything will be sorted out,” pleaded Beremauro.
He denied the allegations that the company has closed its mining activities at the site,,
But one of the workers who spoke on condition of anonymity revealed that the company stopped mining in February 2015 and about 26 of its employees have been fired due to the development.
According to the document signed by the Chief Financial Officer Bizwick Kaswaswa and the Mining Manager Willington Beremauro which was posted on the company’s board, notified the workers on the temporary reduction of employee numbers due to the rain season which is approaching.
Mwawi Shawa, desk officer for Justice and Peace Department in Karonga Diocese which is implementing Transparency Initiative within Our Natural Extractives (Tiwone), said it was in the interest of justice for Eland to honour the agreement.
“As the Catholic Commission for Peace and Justice, we have a preferential option that requires us to side with the vulnerable. Likewise, we hope Eland will respect the agreement for justice and peace’s sake,” said Shaba.
President Peter Mutharika has conceded that Malawi has not benefitted from minerals due to poor bargaining at the initial stage,
“I think we need to review the way we award licences to institutions which have the capacity to explore [for] minerals in this country,” said Mutharika in a special programme with taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe.
Mutharika said as “a trustee of Malawi Government property and resources” he will not allow them to be exploited.
“If Malawians can’t benefit from these resources, then we will let them [resources] lie idle for the future generations to use, otherwise we have to be wise in these dealings,” he said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :