–244 families in the dark on yet to be demolished houses
Globe Metals and Mining, a mining firm whose main activity is the Kanyika Niobium Project in Mzimba, has drawn the wrath of communities around the project site for putting in suspense 244 families whose houses are set for demolition.
Some of the disgruntled families were paraded on Monday during a round table discussion on the complaints by Kanyika communities, which was organised by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) in Lilongwe.
The meeting was attended by CCJP representatives, the concerned families, the media and district commissioner for Mzimba Thomas Chirwa, among others.
However, conspicuously missing were representatives from Globe Metals and the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining despite being invited for the discussion.
During the discussion, a sad and emotional tale narrated by Monica Moyo from Kawale Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Mabulawo, spoke volumes about the residents’ frustrations.
Moyo, a mother of six, said her house was earmarked for demolition despite being on roofing stage. She said she had spent huge sums of money to buy cement and iron sheets.
Moyo said she cannot complete the house, stating that Globe Metals officials warned her that her efforts would hit a blank wall as the house would still be demolished.
“Almost four years now, they [Globe Metals] have not come back to implement their plans to demolish our houses. We don’t know when they will come as they are not communicating to us.
“So, as it is now, we cannot do any development in our respective areas fearing that any structure built will be demolished,” complained Moyo.
CCJP diocesan secretary for Mzuzu Arnold Msimuko informed the meeting that 244 houses are set for demolition in the area, but do not know when the exercise would start.
“Even when you are at the workplace and if you are suddenly told that you are on transfer, your concentration towards your work changes and slows down. This is what is happening to residents around Kanyika mine,” said Msimuko, adding that over the years, the company has not updated the communities on the way forward.
CCJP national secretary Chris Chisoni, in an interview, accused Globe Metals of eroding the livelihoods of villagers in the area by degenerating them into abject poverty.
Mzimba district commissioner Thomas Chirwa confirmed before the meeting that the situation is pathetic for Kanyika villagers and said there is need for collaborative efforts to take the company head on.
But a Globe Metals official, Chrispine Ngwena, insisted the company has consistently informed and advised residents around the area that if and when a decision is taken by Globe’s director to proceed with the project, their houses will be demolished.
“The mining project envisaged at Kanyika is a huge costly undertaking. It involves significant capital expenditure, a highly complex metallurgical process, considerable planning and detailed negotiation with government to arrive at an agreement whereby the project may proceed,” he said.
Ngwena said CCJP should be aware that any loss of livelihood by anyone in the area due to activity by Globe is “entirely spurious.”