By Vincent Bwinga (Justice and Peace)
The Senior Group Village Headman Mwakabanga has commended the Justice and Peace Desk for conducting awareness meeting on Free Prior and Informed Consent.
Speaking during the meeting, the traditional leader said the meeting has opened their eyes on mining issues, especially on ways of engaging investors and government to claim their rights.
SGVH Mwakabanga said that they were not aware about the Exclusive Prospective Licenses that have been given to companies to explore oil on Lake Malawi.
“We would like to thank the Justice and Peace Desk for coming up with the project. This has strengthened our capacity to demand our rights to participate in decision making processes in the mining sector,” said Mwakabanga.
SGVH Mwakabanga further said FPIC is proving to be more practical entry tool to facilitate dialogue between community members, investors and government on extractive industries. He appealed for more awareness meetings in his community and surrounding villages.
“Most investors are not transparent and honest on issues of mining as we learnt from Kayelekela (Uranium) Mine. Therefore, the community needs to have a clear understanding of FPIC principle so that they easily claim their rights,” added the traditional leader.
Currently, there are five Exclusive Prospective Licenses given to companies where two are for oil exploration, two for uranium, and one for coal, rare earth elements and tungsten.
The awareness meeting was orchestrated by the Justice and Peace Desk of the Diocese of Karonga under the Inclusive and Transformative Extractive Industries in Southern Africa project. Australian Aid is funding the project through Oxfam in Malawi.
The project firstly aims at ensuring that the government is transparent and accountable in the generation, collection and expenditure of revenues from the extractive industries; that the government and companies uphold human rights in their policy and practice; and strengthen capacity of citizens (particularly women) and CSOs are agents of change.
The project is being implemented in the areas of Traditional Authorities of Kyungu and Kilupula in Karonga District.