We believe that government policies must result in a fair distribution of wealth emanating from natural resources and that revenue and tax policies benefit all Malawians.
Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative
The extraction of Malawi’s natural resources will make the country poorer unless the associated revenues are used for the benefit of this and future generations. Citizens for Justice has lobbied for Malawi to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) since 2008. The EITI is a global standard to promote open and accountable management of natural resources. It is implemented by a multi-stakeholder group comprising governments, companies and civil society working together.
In June 2014, the government publically committed to join the EITI during the President’s State of the Nation Address. In March 2015, the multi-stakeholder group met for the first time – Citizens for Justice was selected by other civil society organisations to be part of this group in December 2015.
Malawi is expected to sign up to the EITI in the first half of 2015. To be considered EITI compliant, the government will have to disclose taxes and other payments made by companies and companies will have to disclose what they pay to government. The Standard also recommends contract transparency and beneficial ownership information sharing. The availability of more data on what Malawi is producing and receiving from extracted resources will be used to inform dialogue and promote greater accountability in how resources and revenues are being used.
Publish What You Pay
Transparency and accountability are critical to ensuring that Malawi’s extractive industries contribute to socio-economic development. The Publish What You Pay campaign envisions a world where citizens benefit from their natural resources, today and tomorrow. A local chapter was launched in Malawi in September 2014 and awaits official confirmation from the International Secretariat in London. The Coordinator for the campaign is housed in Citizens for Justice’s offices. As one of the civil society organisations involved in this campaign, we are calling for transparency and accountability along the value chain – during the decision to extract and the awarding of licences and agreements, when revenues are paid by companies to governments, and in the government’s expenditure and utilisation of these revenues.
Advocacy and Lobbying
Citizens for Justice is the coordinator of Malawi’s Natural Resource Justice Network, which is a coalition of 33 organisations committed to ensuring Malawi’s natural resources are used for the benefit of all Malawians. Through this platform, Citizens for Justice has been lobbying government and members of parliament on revising the Mines and Minerals Act of 1981. This has involved training with parliamentarians and involvement in stakeholder meetings with the Department of Mines. This year, Citizens for Justice will continue lobbying to ensure a citizen-responsive Bill is passed to improve the use and extraction of our resources.
Last year, we conducted an Oil Policy and Legal Audit,, and this year we will be using the results of the audit to lobby for changes in the Petroleum (Exploration and Extraction) Act of 1983.
Business and Human Rights
Multinational Corporations (MNCs) maintain economic and political power which is often used to violate rights in countries like Malawi. MNCs frequently exploit local labour, flout local policy and legal frameworks, use double but exploitative standards across different countries and their operations disturb the livelihoods and cultures of indigenous communities. In the pursuit of profits, most MNCs leave local communities with the burden of environmental damage and wastes. With emphasis on the extractive industry, CFJ raises public awareness on the activities of MNCs and campaign for MNCs to be accountable to both the Government of Malawi and its citizens.
This year, Citizens for Justice will research child rights and safety in extractive industries projects that are funded by the World Bank in Malawi. We will be the secretariat of the project management team as the project will also be implemented in Tanzania and Uganda in partnership with the Bank Information Centre. The knowledge gained and lessons learnt from implementing this project will assist in informing policy and programming decisions and guide actions on how best to mitigate business impacts on children. In this context, the project will generate benchmarks that will be shared with other stakeholders involved in the promotion and protection of children rights.