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MJ Council backtracks on all inclusive stakeholders meeting on mining

By IOMMIE CHIWALO

NAMIWA: feedback from the DC for Mulanje District is strange

Mulanje District Council has rescinded its decision to hold an all inclusive stakeholders meeting scheduled for December 28, 2023 citing several reasons for the postponement.

In a letter that we have seen and signed by District Commissioner David Kayiwonanga Gondwe, the decision has been arrived at due to the fact that there are a few stumbling blocks for the council to proceed as per the plan.

Gondwe states, among the reasons warranting rescheduling, is that Ministry officials from both Forest and Mines department at national level are on festive season holiday.

“These officials are very key in this matter as mining issues are not in the purview of Mulanje District Council, Secondly efforts have been made to get in touch with authorities of Akatswiri Company but proved futile. Our wish is that they should be available during this important meeting,” said Gondwe.

He adds that currently the district council is operating on a skeleton staff at secretariat because of festive holiday including inavailability of key
Directors and Sector Heads.

“This scenario would make it difficult to provide the much needed logistical support to local leaders and other important members of the community.

The call for all inclusive meeting is initiated by Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) in collaboration with Tourism Association of Mulanje Mountain, Friends of Mulanje, Tour Guides and Porters Association and communities.

Reacting to rescheduling for the meeting CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa says the feedback from the DC for Mulanje District is strange considering that it was him (the DC) who set the date and now he is changing tunes.

He however said that the reasons given are valid and that such being the case, the concerned stakeholders will patiently wait for the communication soon after the end of the the festive holidays.

“Nonetheless, we would like reaffirm our stand that we won’t relent until Mount Mulanje is saved from the miners. We will do all we can with the realm of the law to protect and preserve this national, continental and global pride which UNESCO disiginated as a heritage site owing to its being a home to unique plant and animal biodiversity. We expect the date to be set the very first day in office. Any further delays won’t help matters,” he said.

Apart from water supplied to Mulanje, Thyolo, Chiradzulu and Blantyre districts, the mountain provides direct jobs to 600-plus porters and guides, 65 tourism facility operators that have provided over 30, 000 jobs in the hospitality industry, with multi-billion kwacha investments that
will turn into white elephants should the mountain cease to be tourist attraction due to health related hazards stemming from mining activities.

CDEDI Chief has since highlighted that accepting mining in the mountain will mean incurring losses in billions of Kwacha through taxes both at local and central governments levels.

The recent attack on Mt. Mulanje has sent shock waves to communities in Mulanje and Phalombe districts as they are reminded of the fatal effects of water gushing out of rocks that were unprovoked, hence they cannot condone any apparent provocation of danger through drilling that will weaken further the structure of the mountain, change courses of water, thereby leading to more flash floods that have the potential to wipe out humans, animals and crops as was the case with Cyclone Freddy.

However, on progress in ensuring cooperation with the concerned stakeholders, DC Gondwe has tipped that his team is finalizing the Field Inspection Report generated from Chambe site as per management instructions to ascertain the prevailing claims.

He briefs that the team confirmed with management that Akatswiri Mines Personnel had since left the Site last week on Wednesday the 20th and demobilized.

“Be assured that as a council we are equally taking this issue with utmost seriousness and
urgency,” he said while expressing that it remains his wish to have it conducted immediately after the festive holiday for Civil Servants.

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