By Mohamed Sheriff
The Natural Resource Governance and Economic Justice Network (NaRGEJ) on Thursday 13 August 2020 paid a courtesy call on the New Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Musa Timothy Kabba and Deputy Minister, Madam Ann Marie Baby Harding, and praised President Bio for appointing them with the vision to transform the mining sector and extractive industry for the betterment of all Sierra Leoneans, during a ceremony at the Ministry’s Conference room, 5th Floor, Youyi Building, Freetown.
In his brief statement, the Coordinator of Natural Resource Governance and Economic Justice Network, Emmanuel Tommy Gbondo said the Network consist of eighteen civil society and media organizations working to secure responsible, beneficial and accountable natural resource management using human rights approaches in Sierra Leone . He added that the network will continue to play its own part to ensure governance processes are observed . He pointed out that the organization thematic areas of interventions are not limited to Water Management; Fisheries and Marine Resources; Solid Mineral; Forests and Wild Life; Petroleum; Environment and Land.
The Head of the Natural Resource Governance and Economic Justice Network, Abu Brima disclosed that the network over the years has been working with the Ministry to improve on the management of the country’s mineral resources. He noted they have been closely following the review of the Mines and Minerals Act of 2009.
He commended the Government under the dynamic leadership of President Bio for his commitment in rebranding the mining sector and reiterated that the new Minister should take into consideration the recommendations made by the Network on the 16th March 2020, noting that the content of the Bill should take into account the provisions of The Sierra Leone Minerals Policy (and Action Plan) 2018 and the African Mining Vision.
“We want to thank you Minister Timothy Kaaba for giving us this opportunity to lay these issues on the table. One thing I can say on behalf of the Natural Resource Governance and Economic Justice Network is that we are more than ready to work with you to work with the Ministry and we are always available, that is why we have direct links so we have no protocols and so you can call on us anytime,” he ended.
On his part, the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Musa Timothy Kabba said Civil Society Organizations have significant roles to play in the governance of natural resource as representatives of the people.
He said under the New Direction, His Excellency, President Dr. Julius Maada Bio made a pledge to the people of Sierra Leone through the people’s manifesto 2018, that his leadership will enhance effective and efficient management of the natural resources for the benefits of the people and the country, pointing out that it is imperative on them to provide responsible leadership for the sector.
He said key to the Ministry’s activity now is to have a functional legislation that will benefit the people of the country and potential investors
“I think elitism in the mineral sector is the actual fuel for conflict and injustice in the extractive sector. So we have the opportunity now Mr. Abu Brima and your Network as Myself and the Deputy including the NMA are very passionate about making sure that the new Mines and Minerals Law is fit for purpose and stand the test of time,” the Minister underscored adding that the review process will factor views of representatives and individuals interested in the mining sector.
The Mines Minister further maintained that Government, through the new leadership, wants to make sure that people enjoy their natural resources in a fair and accountable way and also able to diversify the economy to enhance human capital development.
He assured the Civil Society members that under his leadership and that of His Excellency, the President, they will strengthen their partnership.
“Processes and Procedures have to be respected. The Constitution of Sierra Leone puts the power of regulation, implementation of the Act to ensure the sector is accountable and transparent, therefore, any agency that is established from the Ministry of Mines should take a line from the policy manual of the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources,” he ended.