Ilomba Granite Company Ltd (IGC) has withdrawn both the application for injunction and the substantive case in a matter it dragged communities and some mining activists to court over the fracas and closure of the mine at Mbilima in Chitipa.
Through lawyer Mwayi Banda, handling the matter on behalf of Kalekeni Kaphale Lawyers, IGC will formally withdraw the Civil Cause number 470 of 2019 at Mzuzu Registry on Monday, January 6, the same day it should have gone for hearing before Judge Thomson Ligowe.
In the Civil Cause at Mzuzu Registry, Michael Mansewu, Kossam Munthali, Sydney Simwaka, SGVH Mbilima, T/A Kameme and Concerned Citizens of Chitipa (CCC) are First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth respondents respectively.
IGC managing director Faisal Hassen was seeking an injunction to stop communities from entering the mine site, saying they were infringing on his right to economic activity and own property.
In an interview yesterday, IGC lawyer Gift Chimowa confirmed that they had delegated the matter to Banda in Mzuzu, because they did not have offices there.
He said: “Management of Ilomba would like to withdraw the matter to give dialogue a chance, because with the present situation in Chitipa, the solution that may come out from the court could not be long lasting unless we have shown that we first sat down and talked.
“On Monday, all factors being equal, counsel will just go to address the court that the matter is being withdrawn. I believe it’s a matter that when both parties sit down and discuss in ernest, can easily be resolved.”
Earlier on Friday, lawyer Lusungu Gondwe of Ritz Attorneys-at-Law wrote Banda, about the conversation they had Thursday evening regarding withdrawal of the case and the court appearance on Monday.
Wrote Gondwe: “We refer to the above-captioned matter and to the tele-conversation of the evening of Thursday, January 2 2020 between your Mr. Mwayi Banda and the undersigned and confirm your advice that Ilomba Granite Company Limited has no intention to prosecute its action against our clients.
“You have instructions to withdraw both the application for injunction and the whole substantive case. You will do so on Monday, January 6 2020 [date of hearing]. We further confirm our agreement that in the premises—and in the interests of containing costs—the undersigned should not travel to Mzuzu High Court on the date of hearing.”
Gondwe further said that in order to cut costs, neither he, nor his clients would be travelling to Mzuzu on Monday, but will be represented by Kawelo Lawyers of Wesley Mwafulirwa, who are also part of the defence team.
Oxfam Malawi country director Lingalireni Mihowa, whose organisation works with communities on mining governance, yesterday said Malawi can best maximise benefits from the mining sector by securing the interests between the investor and the communities around the mining area.
“It is critical that the government strengthens implementation of transparency initiatives around any prospective mining investment and details communities participation throughout the value chain of such mining projects.
“Oxfam believes that implementing models such as Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) in Large Scale Land Based Investments, including mining projects, would be a good way to go,” she said.
Human Right Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairperson Timothy Mtambo, who planned protests over events at Ilomba on January 27, has said citizens must not be punished for demanding accountability.
“Let the government and the company address underlying problems. We are going to monitor this outside court settlement, and if we are satisfied, it means HRDC will cancel its demos in Chitipa, which were first staged on December 27 2019.
“If the current trend continues, we as a people will demand the suspension of all the contracts with the sector and further review.
Our land our right and our minerals our wealth!” said Mtambo.
Community members are demanding five boreholes, two classrooms, two teachers’ houses, a clinic, two kilometres of a gravel road, and a transformer for electricity.