Malawi chief Kyungu bashes uranium miner Paladin: ‘They are doing nothing to help Karonga’

Influential Paramount Chief Kyungu of Karonga has accused Paladin Africa Limited, the company mining uranium at Kayelekera in Karonga of doing nothing to develop the lakeshore district as part of the company’s social responsibility.

He said much as Paladin Africa continued to get uranium at Kayelekera, people of Karonga and Chitipa districts benefit nothing as the company is not carrying out its social responsibility roles to assist in developing the districts.

Paramount Chief Kyungu was speaking on Wednesday in Karonga when Vice President Khumbo Kachali opened a multipurpose  community Telecentre government, through Malawi Communications and Regulatory Authority (MACRA), has constructed to the tune of about K80 million at Lupaso in his area.

Paramount Chief Kyungu of Karonga

The outspoken Ngonde Paramount Chief, who was making welcome remarks, took advantage of the presence of the vice president and told the gathering without mincing words that mining companies like Paladin Africa Limited and Mwaulambo Coal Mine were only interested in mineral resources found in Karonga but doing nothing in giving back to the people.

Specifically he took a swipe at Paladin Africa Limited because, he said, many people in Karonga and Chitipa districts had high expectations that Kayelekera Uranium Mine would bring tremendous change in socio-economic development of areas around the mine.

“They are doing nothing. What we see is a plane from South Africa to Kayelekera three times a week but in terms of social responsibility, there is nothing and we do not know what is happening,” Kyungu said in vernacular Ngonde language punctuated with some English.

The Chief lamented that, as if abdicating its social responsibility roles which should have seen the company ploughing back to the people of Karonga, Paladin Africa was also importing commodities such as rice, which is locally found in the district.

Whilst tackling the issue of security lapse in the border district, Kyungu also asked for redeployment of some police personnel who have over stayed in the district, saying public officers who stay at one station for too long tend to be complacent and eventually become useless.

Kyungu, who seemed to have a lot of issues to let off his chest, said Karonga is one of the rapid growing urban centres in the country and as such, it should revert to its old status of a township. Hesaid stripping the township status from Karonga was one of the many bad decisions made by the previous regime as it abolished town councils.

Responding, Kachali said government would look into some of the issues raised by the traditional leader, including the Kayelekera concerns.

Kachali, however, said that if indeed Paladin Africa was importing locally available commodities such as rice, they better stop and support local the industry.

Paladin officials could not immediately be contacted but random interviews indicated the only notable social responsibility the company undertook was the improvement of water delivery system at Karonga Boma under what was called Garnet Halliday Water Project.

Paladin was also said to be involved in renovation of some primary schools around Kayelekera but it seems people expect the company to do more than renovating existing structures.

They expect the company to construct facilities that can be accredited to Kayelera Uranium Mine.

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