Mining sector commentators have faulted the silence of laws governing the sector on corporate social responsibility of mining companies.
The commentators, who include the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP)) National Secretary Chris Chisoni and former minister Grain Malunga, faulted the laws in Lilongwe on Wednesday during a three-day mining indaba jointly organised by Actionaid, the Norwegian Church Aid, Citizens for Justice, Tilitonse Fund and the Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy.
“Currently, there is no legal framework on corporate social responsibility. For example, you see on [Malawi Broadcasting Station] television a company donating two bags of beans to a community where it is doing some mining works.
“But after asking the beneficiaries, you will find that the communities never asked for beans and have their own development needs. We need proper guidelines on this,” said Chisoni.
He was one of the presenters at the indaba who talked on experiences from the civil society organisation perspective.
Currently, Malawi’s legislation that governs the mining sector is the Mines and Minerals Act of 1981 currently under review.
The Act is supported by the Petroleum Production and Exporting Act of 1983 and the Explosives Act of 1968.
The industry is also regulated by the Mines and Minerals Policy of 2013 and the Environmental Management Policy of 2002.
“Access to potable water remains a challenge in places where most foreign mining companies are doing their mining activities. In some of these areas, communities remain the way they were in the days of Adam and Eve,” said Chisoni.
He warned that without clear guidelines, Malawi is leaving to chance important components that could allow the country to develop socially and economically.
According to Chisoni, his office is aware of some communities where cement production is currently taking place but residents in those communities have to travel some 100 kilometres to access it on the market at an exorbitant price.
“We know companies here in Malawi who are involved in mining and that have even made communities even poorer than before their mining activities. The issue is the markets must be controlled by the government so that citizens benefit,” said Chisoni who did not mention the names of the companies in his presentation.
On his part, Malunga agreed with concerns raised by Chisoni, saying government needs to swiftly move towards formulating CSP guidelines to safeguard the interest of people from mining areas and the surrounding.
In a separate interview on Wednesday, Spokesperson in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Levy Undi said as it is now, not many countries have guidelines on corporate social responsibility because most mining laws in those countries already address the issues.