, KWALE, Kenya, Aug 10 – Leaders from the Coast region have backed Mining Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala’s decision to cancel mining licences issued between January and May this year.
The leaders led by Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya joined Deputy President William Ruto in saying Balala made the best decision for all concerned parties.
“At least this way all the mining companies bidding for the licences are on equal footing and the communities where the mines are located get the best deal,” Mvurya said.
Mvurya was joined by the Matuga, Lunga Lunga and Magarini Members of Parliament and the Kwale Women’s Representative Zainab Chidzuga in supporting the cancellation of the licences.
They agreed with Balala that it was questionable for the licences to be issued at a time when there was no National Assembly in place and therefore no one to represent the interests of the affected communities.
“How can licences be issued right after the day of elections and days before I was sworn in as the C.S for @MadiniKenya,” Balala had posed through his Twitter account on Friday.
And the Kwale governor was adamant that no new licences should be issued until the environmental and health concerns of those living in and around the mining areas are taken into account.
“The niobium in my county for instance was discovered in a gazetted forest and I also have to wonder about the health effects the mining process will have on my people,” Mvurya said.
Mvurya’s support of Balala could not have come at a more critical time given the company mining the rare mineral in Mrima hill of Kwale county, Cortec, has accused Balala of cancelling their licence because they refused to give him a Sh80 million bribe.
Balala has categorically denied these allegations and turned the tables accusing the mining company of trying to deflect from their underhand dealings.
“When all of us were at Bomas waiting for the results and the announcement of who is the winner and then in an office somewhere you are issued a licence on March 7 then there is something serious,” Balala said.
Deputy President William Ruto has himself come to Balala’s defence saying that the decision to cancel the licences was arrived at as a government in order to protect the interests of Kenyans.