The Ministry of Natural Resources has disclosed plans to recruit District Mining Officers in response to proposal from civil society organizations (CSOs) to have mining inspection powers devolved to the district level.
CSOS such as the Norwegian Church Aid – Dan Church Aid (NCA/DCA) Malawi Country Joint Programme, Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), Natural Resources Justice Network and Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN) have been calling for the employment of District Mining Officers to, among others, spearhead conflict management and strengthening of governance in the extractive industry.
Participants at the 2023 Karonga District Alternative Mining Indaba held at Karonga on Tuesday reiterated the calls, stressing that the absence of the mining officers at the district level is creating a yawning gap between duty-bearers and communities surrounding mining sites.
They said recruitment of the officers would facilitate speedy resolution of labour disputes between mining companies, among others.
Regional Mining Engineer George Maneya told the gathering that processes for the recruitment of the District Mining Officers are at an advanced stage and the ministry is waiting of the Directorate of Human Resources Management and Development (DHRMD) to finalize it.
Maneya said nine officers would be recruited in the first phase, with Karonga being one of the districts to benefit.
At the same function, NCA-DCA Communications Manager Wezi Banda-Matsimbe warned that misunderstandings and conflicts would continue characterizing the extractive industry unless the Government of Malawi addresses governance systems that perpetrate social inequalities in the sector.
Banda-Matsimbe observed that the extractive industry is riddled with misunderstandings and conflicts communities surrounding the mining sites are not benefitting from the resources being exploited in their areas.
In his remarks, the Karonga Diocese Secretary for the Bishop, Father Robert Songa, hailed NCA-DCA Malawi Country Joint Programme for organizing the meeting, stressing that it had given communities an opportunity to voice out their concerns direct to relevant authorities.
Government officials that attended the indaba included the Principal Secretary for Mining, Martin Phiri, Regional Mining Engineering Officer and Karonga District Council representatives.