The Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Bright Msaka launched the much-anticipated high resolution airborne geophysical survey results two weeks ago. There was great expectation among Malawians to know the results of this survey that government has conducted over the past year. However, the minister has not disclosed to Malawians details of how spread these minerals are and, perhaps, quantities.
The minister should have given a breakdown of where these minerals are and the types we have. Sources privy to the survey say Malawi has platinum, copper, uranium, coal, gold etc. This information should be available to all Malawians because it is in the public interest and Malawians need to know. This information should not be a preserve of a few individuals, let alone investors. What is the minister hiding?
Incidentally, a few weeks ago Msaka accused the media of failing to encourage investors in the mining sector because of negative reporting, yet he is hiding vital information from the people who are entitled to know.
The information he has given does not give much hope that Malawians will benefit from these minerals. If the minister is failing to disclose the minerals that have been discovered, it is doubtful that citizens will know what is contained in mineral agreements?
Another worrying development is that government seems not to take charge of the mining sector as it seems to be pushing everything to foreign investors. It shows government has little capacity to lead and is running away from responsibility.
Government needs to invest in the mining sector. The resources are there but government lacks vision and direction. If one looks at the money government has wasted and continues to waste through corruption, Cashgate, State banquets, travels and other luxuries, one realises that it is more than enough to invest in the mining sector. The K6 billion for loan defaulters with Malawi Savings Bank (MSB) could have been put to better use for the benefit of Malawians.
If the mentality of government does not change, Malawians will not benefit from the mines. Government should provide leadership and take charge of the minerals. Otherwise, we will always be at the mercy of foreign investors who will take advantage of our mineral wealth because government has developed a defeatist attitude that it cannot do without foreign investors.
We have seen how Kayelekera Uranium Mine has not benefitted Malawians, let alone the people of Karonga. Already people in Inkosi Mabilabo in Mzimba have threatened to take over Kanyika Nobium Mine run by Global Metals of Australia because they say the company has neglected their welfare. Government shares much blame for this because it does not monitor the agreement it signed with Global Metals.
The crux of the matter is that government needs to handle the mining sector properly. n