Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace under the Karonga Diocese has bemoaned the continued lack of transparency and accountability in the mining sector despite the country signing up to the Extractive Industry Initiative (MWETI) a global standard for governance for a country’s oil, gas and mineral resources that enhances transparency and accountability in natural resources management.
The call come amid concerns from various mining stakeholders and communities over a lack of information on dividends paid by mining companies to local authorities and government in areas where mining activities is taking place across the country.
Speaking in an interview following an engagement orientation meeting with Religious Leaders and Human Rights Defendants Organizations among others in Karonga, CCJP Project Officer Vincent Bwinga, said despite Malawi signing up to ETI little benefits are being felt on the ground as communities continue to lament a lack of openness among mining companies.
He added that through the implementation of ETI, communities were supposed to be empowered with information to enable them to seek accountability from authorities on the use of mining dividends in their areas.
“Transparency and accountability remain a big challenge especially in communities where mining activities are being extracted as secrecy over revenue and contracts continue to cast a heavy shadow over the sector hence community’s dissatisfaction with mining firms,” Bwinga said.
Turning to the orientation, the project officer said it was vital to get religious leaders among others get involved in issues of mining due to their outreach in communities.
“Religious leaders are very influential in the society hence our engagement with them as their voice is a powerful tool that can be used to advocate for the rights and needs of communities to mining investors through their influence and outreach,” he explained.
Reverend Ian Mkhalipe of Lupembe CCAP, a participant to the engagement, expressed appreciation to CCJP for seeing it fit to among others incorporate religious leaders in issues of the extractive industry.
According to Mkhalipe, the engagement meeting was an eye open as it has enlightened them with knowledge of mining issues saying they are now better placed to inform their church goers on issues of mining in their respective communities.
With financial assistance from Australia Aid through Oxfam CCJP is running a project titled Action by Communities Towards Inclusive and Valuable Extractive for Malawian in Karonga and Chitipa districts respectively.