A blame game continues between the Natural Resource Justice Network (NRJN) and government over the just-passed Mines and Minerals Bill which civil society organisations feel was passed without addressing some concerns.
On the other hand, government feels the Bill has tenets of transparency and accountability as it is believed to respond to the needs of the citizenry and conforms with international standards on mining sector activities.
NRJN chairperson Kossam Munthali said in an interview the grouping wanted to ensure that there was a special mining account for mining proceeds for accountability as well as the removal of clause 38 (4) in the Bill which states that Malawians will only be able to start accessing information after two years of the mining company’s operations.
“Malawians are still questioning what this 0.45 percent is going to achieve in community development around the mine, why did government not include clauses on disclosure of contracts, disclosure of procurement information, what is government’s interest there,” wondered Munthali.
But Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining spokesperson Sangwani Phiri argued that documents on mining investments like contracts and procurement are public documents and there is no way that citizens can be deprived of information.
After the Bill was passed last week, a researcher with Tax Justice Network Africa, Rachel Etter-Phoya, also argued that the Bill, while addressing many previous concerns, has many gaps which are a concern to the governance of the sector.
In her analysis of the Bill, she says the 1981 Bill is effectively being replaced by two separate proposed laws and the new Mines and Minerals Bill.