A consultation meeting on the mining communications in Malawi on Monday revealed that conflicts in the sector are inevitable as there are parallel expectations and informal promises.
Stakeholders discussed the mismatch of expectations at length at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre during a meeting organised by the Adam Smith International, who have been contracted by World Bank through the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, to develop Malawi’s Mining Communication Strategy.
Speaking at the meeting, Neno district commissioner Kaleso Montero said most companies that work in rural areas do not fulfill promises they make to the public.
“The companies come with verbal promises to the people which are never implemented,” said Montero.
The district commissioner asked the ministry responsible for mining to put in place mechanisms that would strongly compel companies to fulfill their social responsibilities.
“There is need for a written agreement at the community they are working in to clearly indicate what the people will benefit just like it is done at central level,” said the commissioner.
Ministry of Mining public relations officer Levi Undi said there were several interest groups that made it difficult to deal with such issues.
“Perhaps what is missing is harmonisation of issues as there are different interests like the business community, civil society and communities themselves,” said Undi.
He said the conflicts that arose because of the mining activities were rooted in poor management of people.
“Companies and the ministry have failed to manage expectations of the community which is supposed to be done at the beginning of the project,” he said.
Recently, quarrels ensued between the people of Neno and Vale Logistics who built a railway line in the district that will transport its coal from amine in Mozambique.
—Filed by Brenda Nkosi of the Malawi News Agency.