A Blantyre-based High Court Judge Dunstain Mwaungulu has said Malawi probably lags behind other nations in terms of having a body of laws and practices to regulate the mining industry.
The judge’s observations, made at a Malawi Law Society (MLS) formal handovers between old and incoming executive committees at a dinner last weekend in Blantyre, comes against the background of the launch of Mines and Minerals Policy by government last month.
Local commentators and human rights activists have argued before that Malawi could be an attractive destination for mining investment because of the laxity of the legal framework and governing regulations.
One such local commentator, Rafiq Hajat of Institute of Policy and Interaction (IPI), said in an interview on Tuesday, the policy launched by Malawi Government in April this year is vague and does not address concerns raised.
Mwaungulu, in his presentation at the MLS dinner where he was guest of honour, said there is comprehensive legislation in mining that constitutes mining law and practice together with related laws about the environment.
Mwaungulu said President Joyce Banda in her budget speech on Friday, referred to the Mines and Minerals Policy launched in April, but he wondered if lawyers, specifically MLS, were informed about the policy formulation.
MLS president Mandala Mambulasa, in an interview on Tuesday, said the society was never consulted.
The judge said many people in Malawi do not know their rights on the minerals beneath the land.
Mwaungulu said: “The Mines and Mining Act and the Petroleum Exploration and Production Act, through licensing and permits, enables the owners of land underneath to apply for explorative and exploitive rights.”
Mambulasa, speaking at the MLS handover dinner said: “It is not uncommon to hear stories or allegations of documents containing our geological data growing wings and flying out of public offices.”