Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) has branded Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mines evil for allegedly tolerating Globe Metals and Mining’s delayed roll-out of its mining project while ignoring acute poverty inflicted on Kanyika residents in Mzimba.
It has emerged that government has given Globe Metals the benefit of the doubt despite the ministry’s Principal Secretary (PS) Ben Botolo claiming that the company wants government to invest 90 percent of the about $400 million (about K162 billion) project, moving away from its initial 100 percent shareholding.
While Botolo suggested that there is need to properly strategise on not granting a mining licence, the ministry’s acting director Peter Chilumanga, during an interface meeting with civil society organisation (CSOs), Kanyika residents and M’mbelwa District Council officials in Mzimba on Friday, said government is pushing hard to strike a mining deal with the company.
He said Globe Metals has invested a lot of money in mineral exploration which cannot just go down the drain. He said government is confident Globe Metals will secure the capital, but he could not specify when and how long people of Kanyika have to wait for compensation after disruption of their livelihood.
Chilumanga said government was acting in the interest of the people and will seriously engage the company to clarify its incapacity claims.
However, he could not say the period the two will take to discuss the deal and interventions government will make should the deal crumble.
As a way of consoling the starving souls, he prayed that God touches the hearts of the nearly 250 households, a prayer their representatives strongly objected.
“I know people are in agony. But my plea is that have a little patience. I am asking God to calm you down,” said Chilumanga.
Taking into account the poverty the people have been exposed to, CCJP diocesan secretary for Mzuzu Diocese, Arnold Msimuko, called the ministry evil for being inhuman and insensitive to the people’s suffering.
Msimuko said the ministry was only aggravating the poverty by calling for patience and not providing tangible solutions.
Church of Central Africa Presbytery (CCAP) Livingstonia Synod’s Church and Society Programme official Paul Mvula said government was violating the people’s right to life, dignity and development.
Government is being accused of engaging in secret mining deals that leave the public with no information on the deal’s benefits and progress.
Traditional Authority (T/A) Mabulabo and members of Kanyika Mine Native Forum said the mining deal has to be shelved off and the company’s structures should be razed down to signal a halted deal.
Chilumanga said the law would catch up with government if the deal was halted abruptly and chased the company. Instead, people have to resume farming, building and developing the area as they please until the mining agreement is signed.
He also promised to ask the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) to give relief items to ease the pain inflicted on people.