The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), an arm of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), yesterday outlined weaknesses surrounding Malawi’s Mines and Minerals Policy guiding the country’s mining sector.
The commission, which is implementing a two-year extractive project called Tonse Tipindule alongside other faith-based organisations, also said the policy has a number of “grey areas” that need to be looked into if the mining sector is to effectively contribute to the country’s wealth.
Presenting a paper on the project being funded by Tilitonse Fund, CCJP project officer Success Sikwese told journalists in Lilongwe that the Mines and MineralS Policy of 2013 which replaced the 2007 policy is not comprehensive as it does not provide for governance structures.
“For instance, there is no provision for decentralisation of Ministry of Mining and does not provide for transparency and accountability mechanisms,” he said.
Sikwese said there is also an apparent poor linkage between the current policy and other mining related policies in the sense that the policy puts much effort in the growth of the mining sector without clearly linking with other mining-related policies such as decentralisation or local government policy.
He also faulted the policy formulation process in the entire mining sector which he said are non-participatory as a result of lack of platforms for effective consultation and engagement.
On the legal framework governing the mining sector, Sikwese said the current Mines and Minerals Act of 1981 is outdated as such it does not resonate with new trend of mining and democratic governance.
He also questioned privacy and secrecy in the current review process of Mines and Minerals Act, saying it is not clear as to who is involved and at what stage is the review process.
“There is need for harmonisation of all policies that directly or indirectly deal with mining to see to it that all related areas are not ignored,” said Sikwese.
He also called for the need to include the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) in policy framework so as to ensure that there is maximum transparency and accountability in the mining sector.
On proceeds from the sector, Sikwese suggested that the Ministry of Mining should ensure periodical publication of proceeds from extractive industry as well as publish the activities that are funded by the proceeds.
The Tonse Tipindule project is a faith-based initiative towards increased transparency, accountability and responsiveness in Malawi’s mining sector.
The K300 million worth of project is being implemented in almost all areas where major mining activities are taking place in the country and these are Mulanje, Phalombe, Mwanza, Chikwawa, Balaka, Ntcheu, Machinga, Mangochi, Lilongwe, Dowa, Karonga, Mzimba, Chitipa and Rumphi.