The Catholic Diocese of Karonga has weighed in on shady circumstances surrounding the mining industry in the district saying all organizations that advocate for responsible mining should work together with the sole aim of making sure the masses benefit and are appositely protected.
Karonga is home to about eight mines which include the Kayerekela Uranium Mine, cited as the biggest in the country.
Communities and local civil society organizations have ceaselessly blamed the miners for failing to fulfil their social corporate responsibilities. Australia’s Paladin Africa Limited, miner at Kayerekela Mine, continues to suffer the worst of punches on the same.
Speaking during a recent meeting, vicar general of the diocese Monsignor Dennis Chitete said it was disgraceful that well registered organizations had forgotten to do their work and were, instead, engaged in verbal battles against each other.
“The development worries us as a church because the lives of the communities [which we serve] are not changing despite the presence of various mines around,” said Chitete. It is because there is no genuine advocacy but rather selfish ambitions to enrich ourselves.”
He said despite most of mine advocacy organizations flocking to the district following the inauguration of the Kayerekela Mine in 2004, there was nothing one could point at as a job well done by the advocates.
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) Karonga district coordinator Sydney Mwakaswaya corroborated Chitete’s sentiments but quickly claimed as a commission they were miles ahead as far as the issue of mines advocacy was concerned.
He said the commission was working towards the establishment of Transparency Initiative Within Our Natural Extractives (TIWONE) so that it become an umbrella body for all organizations interested in mines advocacy.
“We hope this will work perfectly well and scrap off people’s preconceived thoughts that CSOs simply exist to enrich themselves in the name of the poor,” he said.
Group Village Headman Mesiya, in whose village Eland Coal Mine is located, said “if the CSOs worked as one they will achieve their goals of making sure people in Karonga benefit from mining projects.”