Communities in Mangochi held a peaceful demonstration on Wednesday on ‘illegal gold mining activities’ taking place in their areas and petitioned President Peter Mutharika through Mangochi District Commisisoner Moses Chimphepo demanding that government should deploy Malawi Defence Force (MDF) to patrol Namizimu Forest.
Human rights activists Billy Mayata and Natural Resources Justice Network chairperson Kossam Munthali joined the communities in the demonstrations.
The petitioners want the deployment of Malawi soldiers within one week and warned that if the military personell are not deployed by Friday 26 October 2018, they shall continue to exert pressure on government through series of unspecified action.
Spokesperson for the group of demonstrators Dickens Mahwayo said the villagers from Tradition Authorities (T/As) Makanjira and Namabvi in Mangochi are demanding for eviction of all illegal miners and MDF soldiers to be deployed “to patrol Namizimu Forest to prevent the miners from destroying the forest reserve further.”
The petitioners also want President Mutharika to order that the damaged areas be rehabilitated.
They also demand the passing of the revised mines and minerals Bill in the next sitting of Parliament.
“We want only licensed companies to work in the area so that people can start benefitiing from the natural resources,” Mahwayo said.
He accused illegal miners of causing social ills in their communities such as “engaging in prostitution and employment of minors.”
The group village head (GVH) Saiti Mwasungu wondered why officials from the department of mines keep going to the area to collect huge amounts of deposits on the pretext of conducting a survey instead of coming on the open to declare whether the areas have precious stones or not.
As part of the detailed coverage, the Daily Times carried editorial comment on the matter titled ‘Let there be action on illegal mining’.
The paper said: “The people of Mangohci should not be ignored because the issue they are presenting is not only serioys but also sensitive and, if not handled with the seriousness it deserves, something bad might happen.”
It pointed out that those who are into illegal mini g activities are not Malawians but foreigners.
The government, the paper urged, must not continue handling this issue indecisively, reminding the government that there is wealth in the earth.
Mangochi district commissioner the Reverend Moses Chimphepo commended the demonstrators for conducting a peaceful march and promised to deliver it to the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) by Thursday, October 11, 2018 by 10am.
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