KARONGA--The battle between the people of Karonga and Paladin (Africa) Limited, a company responsible for mining activities at the Kayerekera Uranium Mine, has taken another turn with the people saying that they will stage a protest against the mine on Wednesday, 14th November, 2012.
Non-governmental organisations such as Karonga Youth for Justice and Development, Tutulane Palikimo Business Associations and Karonga Business Community attended a highly charged meeting representing people and businesses in Karonga.
Speaking during the meeting, chairperson of Karonga Business Community, Wavisanga Silungwe described the situation at Kayerekera mine as deplorable and a mockery to the people of Karonga and Malawians in general.
"They [Kayerekera mine administration] must give back to the people of Karonga what belongs to them. They promised us a referral hospital, free and safe water, high standard roads which we have not seen four years after production at the mine started. Who do they take the people of Malawi for? Dull people? Fools?" wondered Silungwe.
He said meetings between government and the mine's administration haven't produced tangible results and described some administrators at the mine as stubborn and insensitive to the plight of the people since Kayerekera Uranium Mine was inaugurated.
"Greg Walker [Kayerekela Uranium Mine General Manager] always arrogantly says that he is aware of the concerns of the people of Karonga but what has he done? Nothing. We think enough is enough and we have decided to protest against their unhelpful administration.
"Business people in Karonga are not benefiting according to plan. Now they are importing simple things like foodstuffs from foreign companies saying that our things are expensive. Are they serious? How can that be? How can they be importing tomatoes, rice and fish, things the people of Malawi can easily supply?" charged Silungwe.
On his part, Karonga Youth for Justice and Development publicity secretary, Stevenson Simusokwe, said that they were representing the people of Karonga but in real sense the whole country and asked all Malawians to support their cause.
He said that they would block the road that leads to Kayerekera Uranium Mine so that no uranium and foreign foodstuffs go through to frustrate the miners. He said that would perhaps force them to change their "stupid attitude towards the locals.
"Why can't they just listen to the cry of the Malawian people? Are these people human enough? Do they care about people's lives? Honestly, this is nonsense!" snarled Simusokwe.
He said they would mount a blockade at Mpata, specifically at Mwesha Bridge at 7:30am on Wednesday 14th November. He said they would remain on the road until they were listened to by the mining company.
These organisations, on behalf of the people of Karonga, among other things demand that Paladin should allow local businesses to supply foodstuffs, hardware materials and engineering services; that Paladin should fulfill the promises of a tarmac road and a referral hospital; that Kayerekela Uranium Mine should have an account in Malawi and not outside the country as it is the case now and that the administration should listen to the voiceless employees' union at the mine.
The Kayerekera Uranium Mine saga was first unearthed by MaraPost which some two weeks ago published a story which quoted Karonga Youth for Justice and Development attacking the administration at Kayerekera Uranium Mine, calling it "dishonest."
The story has also been reported by local and international media with BBC Focus on Africa saying that it will focus on the mining industry in Malawi, especially Kayerekera Uranium Mine next Friday.
(c) The Maravi Post 2012. Reproduction without acknowledgement prohibited