KARONGA--Controversial Karonga-based writer, Garnet Kamwambe, has asked the people of Karonga to be patient on the Kayerekera Uranium Mine dispute, saying they should give dialogue a chance.
The Harvard graduate in Economics and former diplomat said that the incumbent government is ready to talk with them on the mishaps that have arisen at the mine.
Speaking in a telephone interview on Wednesday, Kamwambi who published The Real State of the Malawi Nation, 48 Years After Independence that exposed the the evils in the former regime, including those at the Kayerekera Uranium Mine and was later charged with treason for publishing seditious material, said that the problems that have led to disagreements between the people of Karonga and Paladin over the Kayerekera Uranium Mine are a carry over from the former government which didn't handle the situation professionally.
Said Kamwambe: "The current government is more understanding and is ready to talk to us on the matter. The problems that exist now were created by the former government. There was no Memorandum of Understanding that was clearly signed. Paladin's corporate social responsibility was not very clear too."
"I know people are not happy. But they must be patient. Mtemi [Paramount Chief Kyungu] has just appointed me to be the leader of the Karonga Uranium Association which is set to meet the Ministers of Labour and Energy very soon. So, please make this clear to the public; the demonstrations must wait a little bit."
However, chairperson of the Karonga Business Community, Wavisanga Silungwe dismissed Kamwambe's advice and insisted that the people of Karonga will still demonstrate against Paladin next month.
Silungwe said that the people of Karonga and Malawi in general are tired of negotiations and waiting, and that now is "time for action, time to show Paladin that the people of Karonga and Malawi are really dissatisfied with what is happening at Kayerekera Uranium Mine."
"Tell him [Garnet Kamwambe] that our decision is irreversible. We are going to protest against Paladin come November 14. Period. I led a delegation that met the Vice President of the country some two months ago plus John Bande and Cassim Chilumpha on the same but nothing has happened. We have written Greg Walker [Kayerekera Uranium Mine General Manager] for an audience with him several times but he has never responded. No, there is no turning back now," said Silungwe.
According to Silungwe, the non-governmental organisations in the district are set to meet Paramount Chief Kyungu to seek advice on how best they can handle the protest.
The dispute is rooted in the belief among people of Karonga that the country is not benefiting from their natural resource.
When this report was filed, the NGOs were drafting a letter which will be copied to the police and other relevant authorities.
(c) The Maravi Post 2012. Reproduction without authorisation prohibited