Parliament, CSOs Disagree on Mining Bill Tabling

Civil Society Organizations in the mining sector have asked the Ministry of Justice to withdraw the Mining and Minerals Bill scheduled to be tabled in Parliament, accusing the government of not doing thorough consultations in coming up with the proposed law.

A statement jointly issued by Natural Resources Network (NRJN) and Publish What You Pay (PWYP) on Tuesday further demands that Parliament should allow for wide consultations on the Bill, which should be facilitated by the ministry of mining, to ensure good laws are made to regulate the mining sector.

Reads part of the statement: “We believe the approach taken by the government defies the basic civic right of participation which would facilitate stakeholders review and validation of the Bill.

“According to Section 8 of the Constitution, the legislature has a mandate to ensure that enactment of laws reflects interests of the people of Malawi, hence the need for public consultation before the Bill is tabled and deliberated in Parliament.”

While the ministry of Justice could not immediately comment, Chairperson for the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change Werani Chilenga told us the CSOs were consulted but never gave their input.

“They are not being fair with Parliament and government because when the Bill was circulated to us on Friday, I sent a copy to Cepa [Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy] to circulate that Bill with all CSOs, I never got any feedback until last evening,” said Chilenga.

However, Cepa Executive Director, Herbert Mwalukomo, whose organization coordinates operations of PWYP said there was not enough time to look into the Bill.

“The Bill was indeed made available but in a very short space of time, it was only given to us on Friday and this is a Bill that has over 300 pages. So, we are saying there has been no time really given for stakeholders to provide input.”

Mwalukomo suspects that the government is hiding something from the citizens, wondering why the Bill is being rushed in this way.

He also questioned why the ministry never provided them with the draft Bill, alleging that they only got it from a member of Parliament.

Zodiak has established that the Bill will be tabled in Parliament before the house rises sine die on Friday.

The Mines and Minerals Bill of 2023 seeks to repeal the Mines and Minerals Act of 2019, which has been blamed for poor management of the country’s mining sector.

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