By IOMMIE CHIWALO
The District Commissioner (DC) for Mulanje has given a nod to the demand of having an all inclusive meeting by concerned stakeholders on mining activities in Mulanje mountain.
Initially, 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 wanted DC David Gondwe to call for the said meeting by December 21, but he has pushed it to December 28.
In his response letter, Gondwe says the council was thinking of addressing the matter through the Council and that all the concerned stakeholders will be given formal invitation.
But responding to the letter, CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa says his organisation et al were ready to face the DC even yesterday but as a law abiding citizens will wait for the day set by the council secretariat.
Namiwa warned against any delay tactics saying his organisation and all concerned stakeholders will not backtrack in ensuring that mining activities are not taking pace in Mulanje mountain.
Recently at a press conference in Mulanje, stakeholders expressed disapproval of mining activities in Mulanje mountain, the Malawi’s cultural treasure which has been a centre for tourism since immemorial.
And they called for an immediate withdrawal of Akaswiri Mining Company from Mulanje
Mountain, and an urgent all-inclusive stakeholders meeting to discuss matters pertaining to mining in this mountain before the situation gets out of hand.
It is expected that, at the meeting, concerned stakeholders will press DC to make public all relevant documents that culminated into granting of mining license (s) by the Ministry of Forestry and Climate Change, and not the responsible Ministry of Mining, as expected.
“Subsequently, as a people proud of their treasure, all purported licences should be revoked forthwith since mining is not an option on Mt. Mulanje,” says the grouping.
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.
By law, the calls of the concerned stakeholders are necessitated by Section 12 of the Republican Constitution, which hinges on trust, transparency and accountability, and more importantly, demands those exercising legal and political authority to make decisions, to solely serve and protect people’s interests.