Malawi government introduces bill to repeal mines act

Malawi Government published in the gazette a Mines and Minerals Bill, 2023, which, among others, seeks to repeal the Mines and Minerals Act of 2019 and replace it with a new act that incorporates provisions for the establishment of an independent regulatory authority of the mining and mineral resources.

According to Spokesperson for the Ministry of Mining, Andrew Mkonda-Banda, this means government wants to effect changes to the Mines and Minerals Act while maintaining almost all of the provisions and contents from the act that would be repealed.

This is allegedly a “shortcut” for effecting the changes because “government allegedly avoided amending, which could result into too many amendments”.

But Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change, Werani Chilenga, says the committee is not convinced with the reasons government is advancing in order to change the act.

The Mines and Minerals Bill, 2023 was circulated to Members of Parliament on Thursday, 6th April, 2023 and appeared on the notices for upcoming business on Parliament’s Order Paper of Tuesday, 11th April, 2023.

Mkonda-Banda said the bill is not an amendment bill, but a repeal and replacement bill, because “in law this is how it is drafted”. He cited the repealed 1981 Mines and Minerals Act which, he said, was also called the Mines and Minerals Bill before it was enacted in 2019.

“What members of the general public need to know now is that, with this development, all regulatory functions of the Department of Mines have been transferred to the authority.

Andrew Mkonda-Banda

“Additionally, with this development, all policy issues will be separated from regulatory issues in order to achieve autonomy in the regulatory functions of the Ministry of Mining.

“The objective is to achieve transparency and accountability. So no provision has been removed from the current MMA (No 8 of 2019),” Mkonda-Banda said.

According to the bill, the regulatory authority will be responsible for, among other things, granting of mining licenses, inspection of mining activities and advising the minister on policy matters of the mining sector.

The bill is reportedly going to be tabled this week, before this meeting of Parliament rises on Friday, 14th April, 2023.

But Chilenga, who is also the legislator for Chitipa South, questioned the reasons government is propagating in order to change the act, saying there is nothing wrong with the act.

“Though we are not convinced, we welcome the development. We are looking forward to having the bill on the floor and then referring it the relevant committee, where we will be expected to flag out some of the issues through a committee report,” Chilenga said.

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