Sunday, February 28, 2021

Debswana doesn’t just dig holes, it spends P15m on CSI

Debswana said its Corporate Social Investment (CSI) is aimed at demonstrating that it does not only take seriously returns to shareholders, but it also empowers communities in which it operates under its “SHOW WE CARE” value.

The diamond major, owned 50/50 by Botswana government and De Beers said the move also shows that it cares about the people, communities and environment within which it operates. Debswana Managing Director, Balisi Bonyongo told Sunday Standard that the company has allocated P15 million annually towards CSI projects, with the money divided amongst its four mines. Each mine is allocated P3.5 million and encouraged to utilize all the allocated funds.

“So then, we encourage the operations where they are to utilise whatever is their portion,” he said on Friday after handing over the P650 000 Kalamare Community Hall that the company built for the village.

“Our CSI has been made broader, but focusing on very specific things. If it is health related we can consider it, if it is environmental or community project that can benefit the community we can consider it,” he added.
Bonyongo said Debswana supports government’s firm belief that community projects can support both employment creation and poverty eradication.

“We understand fully that we co-exist with communities that have been here long before our mines existed and will continue to do so long after the diamonds we mine have finished,” he said.

The Kalamare VDC Chairperson, Mookodi Legwatagwata said the need for a community hall of this stature was identified in 1995. However, lack of funding delayed delivery and it took 20 years before the village could have such a facility.
“Debswana went above and beyond in the construction of this modern hall as it contains amenities such as a kitchen and offices. It is also accessible to people with disabilities,” she said.

The community hall will be used for community activities including workshops, and seminars and will be available for hire for events to generate income for further developments in the village. Bonyongo added in an interview that his company’s role is not to monitor communities after the handover of projects like these ones as they do proper project management.

“We do proper assessments. We get the right skills in at the right time, so that after delivering project like this it is handled properly with a proper management plan. We can now only allow the villagers to do what they have to do.”

“If we monitor them, we are diverting from our mandate. Our job is to make sure we empower the communities to be able to use whatever we have empowered them with to make money to improve their standard of living,” he said.

Debswana operates four mines namely Jwaneng, Orapa, Letlhakane and Damtshaa. The company plays a major role in De Beers’ production as seen by the latest Anglo American plc Interim Management Statement for the third quarter ended 30 September 2014. Anglo, the global diversified mining group with 85 percent stake in De Beers said its diamond production increased by six percent to 8.2 million carats on the back of good performance from Botswana, where most of the meat of its operations are based. Jwaneng led the pack at 3.3 million carats, followed by Orapa at 2.7 million; Letlhakane with 157, 000 and Damtshaa mine with 83, 000. Debswana also operates the Palapye based Morupule Coal mine.

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