THE MINING VULTURES OF SIERRA LEONE - PREYING ON A NATION'S VULNERABILITY?
There remains many an unanswered question over the attitude and benefits derived from the activities of companies exploiting the non-renewable resources of Sierra Leone given the on-going war for the soul and well being of the ordinary Sierra Leonean especially those on whose traditional lands the mining companies have set up shop.
Documents available on the internet suggest that a civic society Sierra Leonean group, the Network Movement for Justice and Development, NMJD, could have touched the tip of an iceberg that carries with it a lot of wrong-doing on the part of mining concerns operating in Sierra Leone.
The NMJD wrote to a branch of the World Bank that provides Risk Insurance for companies operating in a situation as is to be found in Sierra Leone recovering from a ten-year war and with the potential to have things going the wrong way. MIGA, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency of the World Bank was apparently all set to give its backing to Koidu Holdings Limited, a reinvented body which reeks of Branch Energy the company that brought in the million dollar a month Executive Outcomes mercenary outfit which helped to briefly stave off advances by the RUF and its sympathisers.
After written complaints from NMJD and other concerned organisations such as Green Scenery, MIGA apparently questioned Koidu Holdings who displayed all the arrogance that are to be found in corrupt situations in trying to rubbish the concerns of these organisations insisting that Koidu Holdings had met all the requirements needed for operating in any country, having fulfilled all aspects relating to the environment and the treatment of the people living on their traditional lands.
The first signs that things were not as they seem came from attempts to get in touch with the South African CEO of the company in Freetown, one Jan Joubert who appeared to be always busy or out of his Freetown office even though contact numbers had been requested and duly provided.
A man with nothing to hide should be free to tell his own side of the story to inquiring journalists and it would appear that Jan Joubert feels confident and arrogant enough not to bother with someone who wanted to hear his side of the story. One could understand where he is coming from. Thinking that once he had done his bit to settle the nerves of the greedy in government, he did not dream that any journalist would dare to question the activities of Koidu Holdings.
Back at the MIGA offices in Washington, what looked like a mask/red herring was unearthed. Questioned about the Koidu Holdings saga in Sierra Leone, one official glibly stated that as far as MIGA was concerned, Koidu Holdings guarantee was still under consideration and that no decision had yet being taken. Questioned over the response to MIGA written by Jan Joubert, the Sierra Herald was informed that it was new to the official and requested a copy of Joubert's reply. Can you beat that?
The arrogance of Jan Joubert clearly highlights the problems facing Sierra Leoneans whose God-given resources are being ruthlessly and savagely exploited by what is now known as the "mining vultures" of Sierra Leone. It would appear that mining companies, playing on the greed of government officials and those tasked with the responsibility of seeking the best deals for the country and citizens feel secure and arrogant enough to treat with disdain and contempt any attempt by any citizen or groups of citizen who attempt to question their operations.
The arrogance of Koidu Holdings could be derived from the massive support it has been receiving from the corrupt cabal in Freetown whose sole interests lie in getting as much as they could for personal gains.
The MIGA slap appears to have been felt down the spine of government as reports from Freetown say that the Tejan Kabbah government sent an appeal to the World Bank pleading with MIGA to rethink its decision!!!!
And what is even more terrible is the garbage put out by such companies of their "huge investments" in poor and deprived Sierra Leone - as if they were not in the business for profit, obscene and at whatever cost!!!!!!!
The Sierra Herald would once again call on these so-called "investors" to kindly pack their bags and leave these wasting assets until there is in place a government or a body that would seek the interests of the people and the environment.
Perhaps Jan Joubert needs to be reminded about how Branch Energy got its mining concessions and be reminded about the atmosphere which existed then that allowed them to extract the maximum gain from a desperate government at the time that needed any help to ward off the RUF and elements within the national army.
Consultation with the people? When did that take place and with whom given the fact that Branch Energy in 1995 practically dictated the terms and conditions that allowed it to exploit those mines.
MIGA has promised that it would not be granting any guarantees to Koidu Holding until it has has examined all aspects relating to such operations as defined by the principles of the World Bank and other bodies associated with the Extractive Industries Initiative.
Lest Koidu Holdings get the message wrong, Jan Joubert and his gang are reminded of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative which the World Bank has endorsed - and let the South African tell the world just what it had done in getting those concessions.
Koidu Holdings are kindly asked to make public all monies and other gifts in kind paid out to government and other operatives if the company's operations in Sierra Leone are as clean as they would want others to believe.
MINES AND COMMUNITIES WEBSITE
The Koidu Kimberlite Project - Is Koidu Holdings Ltd. above the law?
Press Statement - Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD)
11th February 2004
For quite some time now the civil society coalition working on extractive industry’s transparency, accountability and social responsibility has been raising serious concerns, expressing strong views and making public comments with regards the conduct of the Koidu Kimberlite Project in Kono. Some well-meaning citizens including other civil society groups, journalists, parliamentarians, community people and even the Peace Diamond Alliance have raised similar concerns.
On Tuesday 3rd February, 2004 Peace Diamond Alliance (PDA) convened a meeting of its executive attended by the Deputy Minister of Mines, Deputy Director of Mines, The SDO-Kono, Parliamentarians, chiefs and the personnel of Koidu Holdings Limited (KHL) in order to resolved the issues and concerns so raised. Inspite of the public outcry and effort of PDA, nothing has been done to address the problems. Instead, His Excellency The President went to Kono a few days after the PDA organized meeting praising KHL as “a job well done” and urged the people of Kono to cooperate with Koidu Holdings Limited. This was followed by a television show displaying the more than 10,000 carats of diamonds already gotten by KHL in he midst of cries, pains and sufferings of the local people. Not withstanding this the Campaign for Just Mining and civil society of this country will not be deterred as they have the right to perform their constitutional duties, namely, to “make positive and useful contributions to the advancement, Progress and well-being of the community” section 3(f) 1991 constitution.
In addition to the above, we also find unacceptable the following activities by Koidu holdings Limited:-
We therefore urge the government of Sierra Leone, the Koidu Holdings Limited and all those responsible to make sure that the following is put in place.
Sierra Leone stands to lose and Kono will again be further devastated if measures are not taken to properly regulate and hold the Koidu Holdings Limited to respect international standards of corporate social responsibility, accountability and transparent public disclosure policies.
For further information contact: NMJD, 8 King Harman Road, Freetown: