Karonga NGO calls off protests against Paladin

The Karonga Business Community, which claims to be an umbrella organization for 52 business groups, has called off planned public protests aimed at forcing the Australian mining company Paladin to close down Kayerekera Uranium Mine saying it will need to re-strategize the way forward.

Spokesperson for demonstrations Wavisanga Silungwe in a brief media statement swallowed his pride by agreeing with government that the protests could “have paralyzed Paladin’s business”

“The Karonga District Commissioner has genuinely observed that this manner could have caused breach of peace and security, we thus agree and we shall have to re-strategize hence we declare the demonstration slated for 12th March-26th March-called off,” Silungwe said.

Among other actions, the protestors’ wanted to: Camp at Sere River and block Paladin Workers, Vehicles, Coasters and Trucks going to or from Kayelekera mine.

Greg Walker of Paladin: Relief
Greg Walker of Paladin: Relief

Camp at Karonga International Airport, preventing any  Paladin visitor landing that day and afterwards. Ask for all vehicles belonging to Paladin that will move around Karonga Township to be parked at Karonga Police Station.

But a few days ago the Karonga District Commissioner’s office denied organizers permission to go ahead with the protests saying the decision was in the interest of maintaining public peace and security, which is a paramount responsibility the office.

“Much as it is everyone’s constitutional right to conduct peaceful demonstrations… our office is not a party to your plans since on the contrary your actions and the contents in your correspondences contain elements of aggression that would culminate into anarchy if left unchecked,” Bambe said.

Mass demonstrations were scheduled from 12th  to 26th  March 2013 and were likely to paralyze the Mine’s operations because the main road to the mine was to be blocked in various sections thereby cutting supplies to mine, organizers told NyasaTimes.

Locals argue that they have not benefited from Paladin’s presence in terms of social infrastructure, jobs and business opportunities.

Paladin has always indicated that it had invested MK5 billion for social development projects in Karonga but locals think this is a ‘farce’ arguing that the company is unable to account for it.

Bambe further said the office of the District Commissioner is not a party to the planned demonstration because you want to involve it in bad faith. Its doors are, however still open for further discussions as long as you stop being slippery.

“By copy of this letter, the Officer in Charge for Karonga Police Station and Ipiyana Police Mobile Service are asked to be alert throughout to ensure that no service is disrupted and immediately contain any act of aggression within and outside the planned areas,” he said

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