Wanangwa Mtawali -Nyasa Times
Hearing of a case in which the people of Kanyika in northern Malawi’s district of Mzimba sued Globe Metals and Mining (Africa) Limited to recover damages and compensation arising from extensive mining and prospecting operations conducted by the latter, began on a good note on Friday at Mzuzu High Court.
Lawyers representing the Kanyika community John Tennyson & Associates, Savjani and Company for Globe Metals and Mining (Africa) Limited and representatives of the Attorney General have agreed on some of the concerns in the writ of summons by the people of Kanyika.
One such critical issue was that whosoever had his or her land disturbed during the exploration phase by Global Metals and Mining (Africa) Limited needed to have been compensated.
The Kanyika Community has since been asked to compile a list of all such households or individuals who were not compansated.
The parties will meet again on 15th November, 2018 to seal this agreement but also continue to discuss other unresolved issues.
The Kanyika community commenced the legal battle on 28th August 2017 after a series of demands towards the mining company and protests over the matter did not yield anything tangible.
Globe Metals and Mining (Africa) Limited and the office of the Attorney General were sued as first and second defendants respectively in this case appearing under civil cause number 143 of 2017.
However, On 11th September 2017, the Attorney General, on behalf of the second defendants, filed a defence denying the claim of the people of Kanyika.
The first defendants also filed their defence on 3rd November 2017 denying the allegations.
This prompted the concerned parties to come for mediation at the Mzuzu High Court on Friday.
Through their lawyers, the people of Kanyika complain that they have become poor and food insecure and lost homes, crops and farmlands because of prolonged activities of Globe Metals and Mining (Africa) Limited in their area.
Apparently, the company commenced the Niobium Project at Kanyika in 2006 to prospect, mine and process minerals in the area, claiming it had been granted a mineral right to do so by the Government of Malawi.
But according to the Southern Africa Litigation Center (SALC), the Kanyika Community was not consulted by either Globe Metals or the Government of Malawi before commencement of mining operations in the Area.
SALC is assisting the people of Kanyika in their legal battle.
Later In 2011, Globe Metals and Mining (Africa) Limited entered into negotiations and consultations for the resettlement of the Kanyika Community and the payment of compensation for any loss and damage occasioned to the community as a result of the implementation of the Project.
The company committed itself to fulfill the following undertakings; resettle all the people of Kanyika adversely affected by its operations by the year 2012 and compensate any loss and damage suffered as a result of the project.
In return, the Kanyika Community significantly laid off the use of their land, ceased long term activities such as the growing and maintenance of perennial crops and ceased maintaining their homes which were marked for demolition.
SALC adds that In the mean-time, Globe Metals and Mining (Africa) Limited with the authorization, approval and full knowledge of the government, continued with the Project for another five years without fulfilling any of its promises it made in 2011.
In its many years of operations in Kanyika, Globe Metals dug huge trenches in the area from which it has extracted huge tonnages of earth, substantially reducing the aesthetic appeal of the area and rendering large portions of it unsuitable for habitation and agricultural production.
Nyasa Times understands that the community has also lost several burial grounds, which are of cultural, religious and sentimental value to them.
A river which was their only source of water in the area, also dried up.
Between 2015 and 2016, the Church and Society Program of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia through the “Tonse Tipindule” project with financial support from Tilitonse Fund empowered the people of Kanyika to demand justice over Globe Metals unfairness, a gesture which has partly led to the current legal battle.
The Tonse Tipindule project sought to empower communities around some mining sites in Northern Malawi to demand social responsibility services from mining companies.
Story first published by NyasaTimes on September 3, 2018