Environmental activist Godfrey Mfiti has maintained that exploration and drilling of oil on Lake Malawi should not be rushed until the country put enabling legislation to govern the country’s natural resources.
Mfiti, who is also a senior official at Wild and Environmental Society of Malawi (Wesm), said licences government awarded to oil exploration companies were based on an archaic law of 1983, which lacked mechanisms on how government could enforce the law on investors that are not satisfying the terms and conditions of the agreement.
Malawi government, through the Ministry of Mines, issued about 200 licences for mining and exploration on Lake Malawi, among others.
RAKGAS, one of the company’s that expressed interest in the oil exploration, has not conducted the environmental assessment impact .
Mfiti observed that the current laws do not tackle on punishment of polluters and benefits of citizens.
He said new law of Envirnomental Management and Authority does not address the issues that were raised during the African Mining vision.
“We need the issues to be addressed. But also government is not forth coming on how prepared they are in case of environmental pollution,” he said.
Mfiti argues that there is too much secrecy in the manner in which these licenses were awarded; and, therefore susceptible to abuse by the licensees.
In January 2015, attorney general Kalekeni Kaphale also expressed reservations over how the licences were awarded.
His legal advice resulted in the cancellation of all the exploration licences, on blocks one to six, pending review.
According to Mfiti, oil and gas drilling is “not a sustainable” development that Malawi needs to pursue over its precious Lake Malawi.
“By drilling oil in fresh water lake, the government will compromise the ecology of Lake Malawi and hence future generations will not enjoy its benefits.
“The process will leave negative environmental footprints, public health hazards and loss of livelihood apart from rare species,” said Mfiti.
A renowned mining industry critic and Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI) executive director, Rafik Hajat, also supports the move for Malawi to review its legal framework governing the mining sector which he described as archaic.
He also called for the harmonisation of various laws in the country such as the Taxation Act, Labour Act, Investment Act and Employment Act which he said are interrelated with the mining sector.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :