Mulanje Council backtracks on all inclusive stakeholders meeting on mining

Mulanje Mountain is one of the major tourist attractions in Malawi

Mulanje District Council has cancelled an all inclusive stakeholders meeting which was expected to discuss mining activities at Mulanje Mountain.

According to a letter that we have seen and signed by District Commissioner David Kayiwonanga Gondwe, the scheduled for December 28, 2023 had been cancelled because Ministry officials from both Forest and Mines department at national level are on festive season holiday.

“These officials are very key in this matter as mining issues are not in the purview of Mulanje District Council, Secondly efforts have been made to get in touch with authorities of Akatswiri Company but proved futile. Our wish is that they should be available during this important meeting,” said Gondwe.

He added that currently the district council is operating on a skeleton staff at secretariat because of festive holiday including unavailability of key
Directors and Sector Heads.

“This scenario would make it difficult to provide the much needed logistical support to local leaders and other important members of the community,” he said

The call for all inclusive meeting was initiated by Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) in collaboration with Tourism Association of Mulanje Mountain, Friends of Mulanje, Tour Guides and Porters Association and communities.

Reacting to the rescheduling of the meeting, CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa said the feedback from the DC for Mulanje District is strange considering that it was him (the DC) who set the date and now he is changing tunes.

He, however, said that the reasons given are valid and that such being the case, the concerned stakeholders will patiently wait for the communication soon after the end of the the festive holidays.

“Nonetheless, we would like reaffirm our stand that we won’t relent until Mount Mulanje is saved from the miners. We will do all we can within the realm of the law to protect and preserve this national, continental and global pride which UNESCO designated as a heritage site owing to it being a home to unique plant and animal biodiversity. We expect the date to be set the very first day in office. Any further delays won’t help matters,” he said.

However, on progress in ensuring cooperation with the concerned stakeholders, DC Gondwe has tipped that his team is finalizing the Field Inspection Report generated from Chambe site as per management instructions to ascertain the prevailing claims.

He said the team confirmed with management that Akatswiri Mines Personnel left the Site last week on Wednesday the 20th and demobilized.

“Be assured that as a council we are equally taking this issue with utmost seriousness and
urgency,” he said while expressing that it remains his wish to have it conducted immediately after the festive holiday for Civil Servants,” he said.

Apart from water supplied to Mulanje, Thyolo, Chiradzulu and Blantyre districts, Mulanje Mountain provides direct jobs to 600-plus porters and guides and 65 tourism facility operators that have provided over 30, 000 jobs in the hospitality industry, with multi-billion kwacha investments that
will turn into white elephants should the mountain cease to be tourist attraction due to health related hazards stemming from mining activities.

The recent attack on Mt. Mulanje has also sent shock waves to communities in Mulanje and Phalombe districts as they are reminded of the fatal effects of water gushing out of rocks that were unprovoked, hence they cannot condone any apparent provocation of danger through drilling that will weaken further the structure of the mountain, change courses of water, thereby leading to more flash floods that have the potential to wipe out humans, animals and crops as was the case with Cyclone Freddy.