By Thula Chisamba
As Malawians continue to complain about mining deals, The Malawi Star, has established that government is facilitating the illegal mining taking place within Kantchena hills in Mzimba district.
On a recent visit to the mining site, our reporter confirmed that illegal minors began stealing minerals in the area about two years ago.
People from different origins flock to the area to conduct the illegal mining deals. The place is not desolate as they already established a small trading center within the area.
In an interview, some confided to our team that officials from governments’ department of mining visited the area and instantly gave these minors permission to be carrying out the trade.
“It’s not illegal as you have put it because government is aware about this. Officials already came and gave us permission,” said Kondwani Phiri, a local business tycoon who is benefiting from the mining deals.
On the other hand, locals within the area expressed dismay on how government is conducting itself especially on mining deals.
Local leader, chief Mpherembe said he was disappointed after learning that miners at this hill were given permission by government, without his knowledge.
“We then reported to the district commissioner who unfortunately expressed ignorance on the matter. He told us that he was equally surprised because nobody has informed his office about the deal,” said Mpherembe.
On his part, the district commissioner, Thomas Chirwa, confirmed the development citing government officials did not notify his office about the issue.
Chirwa emphasized that he was indeed equally shocked to learn that people are mining in his territory without his knowledge.
“We are therefore writing government seeking clarifications on the matter. My office is equally astounded with the development. In fact it remains illegal for these people to be mining without even the knowledge of local leaders, ” fumed Chirwa.
This is happening concurrently with the mining saga at Kanyika in the same district where people are left hopeless owing to the mining deals taking place within the area.
The people were restricted to use their land on grounds that the area has some mineral deposits. Government assured them that they were to be compensated for that but until today, nothing tangible has transpired.
“We are suffering in vain because since then, nothing has happened. We don’t have food and access to potable water because the mining company that came to take samples completely destroyed the land,” said Memory Banda, a victim of the mining deals at Kanyika.
In reaction to the issue, a local official from the CCAP synod of Livingstonia, Paul Tembo, described the situation as worrisome.
He then urged government to work hard and sort out such problems by amending the outdated mining act, currently in use.
“That way only can Malawians start benefiting from mining deals. Look at how the people of Karekera in Karonga were robbed mining profits. Nobody benefited,” he said.
When we went to press, Minister of Mining, Bright Msaka, said government will investigate the issue and establish the real truth before commenting further on the matter.