Local chiefs’ from Chipita district in Malawi are suspected to be cashing in on Ilomba Granite Company Limited for what it is said to be ‘building a mutual relationship between the company and the local leaders’. The 21 chiefs are believed to be on a payroll of the mining company.
According to the Center for Investigative Journalism in Malawi (CIJM) that carried out the investigation, the company pays each chief K20, 000 (approx. USD 27) as a ‘monthly allowance’.
We tried to reject the money but the miner said as elders we had to receive it so that our relationship should continue growing from strength to strengthThe Group Village Headman Chizale
The Group Village Headman confirmed the monthly payouts saying it is the company’s way of appreciating the chiefs for their role in the communities. Jou Zhang, the Owner of the mine, denied giving the chiefs money but said that he has a strong relationship between them (chiefs).
Mr. Faisal Hassan, Director of Ilomba Granite Company Limited, has dragged to court some community members for interfering with operations of their Chipita mine. The mining license holder is demanding compensation from Senior Chief Kameme and four others for the loss of business and gemstones following running battles with locals. Hearing of the case was scheduled to start on January 6, 2020, before the High Court judge.
In a twist of events, Mr. Zhang distanced himself from an impending lawsuit saying he is not aware of the court case which his partner Faisal Hassan
A group of people calling itself Concerned Citizens of Chitipa gave the mining firm, up to Tuesday (7th January 2020) to completely shut down its mining operations until the matter is heard and determined by the court.
Moses Mkandawire, The Church and Society Program Executive Director, added that it is sad that the mining company is operating in the area without fulfilling some of the requirements like environmental impact assessment and corporate social responsibilities in relation with the rules governing the extractive industry.
Mr. Mkandawire claimed a legal firm representing the Chinese investors is owned by the country’s Attorney General though he did not disclose the name of the firm nor provide any evidence to support these claims.
This comes months after police impounded a vehicle full of gemstones which were believed to be from a Chinese Company located in the Mbilima village in the same district.
According to Malawi’s cadastre portal, Ilomba Granite Company Limited is currently mining Sodalite (an ornamental gemstone) in the area.