Three years after government assessed people’s property around Kanyika prospective mine in Mzimba District discouraged from building houses, farming and other developmental activities, a development that has left 248 households destitute.
A media tour organised by Mzuzu Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) on Friday established that people are suffering since they were stopped from expanding their investments including farming.
The people are becoming poorer and prone to hunger.
Houses and other property have heavily deteriorated and a number of families sleep in ruins. About 45 houses completely collapsed forcing people to live in kitchens, shacks and other temporal structures as they wait for compensation.
Building new houses other structures and farming on larger scale will be at owners risk since these will not be part of the property assessed.
However, government and Globe Metals and Mining company are silent on the issue of compensation.
The silence has forced people (including chiefs, councillor, area development committee and other committees) to give Globe Metals and Mining a March 31 deadline to explain progress of compensation failing which the company will be forced to leave the area.
Senior group village head (SGVH) Mbelwele, SGVH Vilimunthumbo Nyirenda, village headman Yobe Nhlane, Kanyika Mine Natives Forum chairperson Sothini Kaluwa, Mabilabo South Ward councillor Christopher Ngoma, Mabilabo ADC chairperson Chipere Jele and other affected people said developments have stalled in the area and people’s lives and property including houses are deteriorating because they were barred from embarking on developmental activities and farming.
They agreed that no mining activity should take place in the area but people still have to be compensated for the damage caused in three years.
They said people were development conscious and food secure before the coming of Globe Metals and Mining.
“We have to be compensated for the damage caused but they should not expect to have a mine here,” said Monica Moyo who along her children sleep in a dilapidated kitchen after her house collapsed.
Mzuzu CCJP diocesan secretary Arnold Msimuko said people’s lives and rights need to be respected and called on government and Globe Metals and Mining to handle the people fairly, arguing the longer it takes to compensate them the poorer they will become.
“The law provides that people be compensated six months after an assessment. We are not against mining in Malawi but we should not play with people’s lives,” said Msimuko.
Paramount Chief M’mbelwa said if the mining company and government are not ready to have mining activities in the area, people should be allowed to live their normal lives, adding the land belongs to them and they deserve better treatment.
He said he is seeking audience with Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Atupele Muluzi to help address the matter.
M’mbelwa District Council director of planning and development Tamanya Harawa said the situation was worrisome but the issue of compensation was beyond the council.
“We are aware of their problems but people should not rush to block mining activities. There is need for dialogue because the delay in compensation is largely due to delay in issuing mining licence,” said Harawa Globe Metals and Mining senior geologist Chris Ngwena said discussions with government are underway and could not comment on the matter.
Muluzi did not answer his phone when called on several times. n