Despite an outcry by some residents of Boteti Sub District who are accusing the Debswana (OLDM) Orapa Letlhakane- Damtshaa Mines for not doing much to uplift the lives of the residents in the area, the Public and Corporate Affairs Manager at the mines, Kesego Okie, has shot down the accusations.
Responding to a Sunday Standard questionnaire last week, Okie said that Debswana has always embraced the social economic responsibility of being a good corporate citizen that is committed to community upliftment and bringing lasting change through its Corporate Social Programme (CSI).
“One of our main focus areas in this programme is education, health and, lastly, sports development. A number of community projects have been undertaken by the Orapa Letlhakane and Damtshaa Mines in the past five years in the Boteti Sub District,” she said.
Okie added that in 2008 the Department of Social Welfare and Community Development in Letlhakane benefitted from their annual General Manager sponsored walk, which is aimed at raising funds to support the needy in the Boteti Sub District.
“The money donated to the Department of Social Welfare was to assist the psycho-social support project that takes care of orphans and vulnerable children in the area. OLDM further assisted Xere Primary school with the construction of a kitchen shelter worth P156 000,” Okie said.
She, however, said that in 2009, Debswana CSI was seriously affected by the global economic crisis and, due to the challenge on the company financial performance, it was not possible to make any financial provision. She said that a business decision was then taken to halt the funding until the CSI programme was rolled out again in 2011.
She further said after the CSI was rolled out in 2011, Debswana sponsored the refurbishment of Boteti show grounds in Letlhakane at a tune of P333 000.
“One of our notable projects was in 2012 when OLDM further handed over P2.3 million to the Boteti Sub District to uplift the lives of the residents. The money was donated towards community projects, building of houses for destitute and improving education facilities in schools,” she added.
Okie maintained that communities in the Boteti Sub District have been very appreciative of Debswana’s commitment towards uplifiting their lives. She said that the projects do not only empower them, but create a favourable environment for job creation and socio-economic upliftment.
She said that their partnership with the Boteti Sub District Council ensures that projects that they support are in line with the Government National Development Plan and are also priority areas for the region.
“From regular engagement sessions that we have with the regional leadership, they have expressed gratitude towards the mines’ contribution to the region. Debswana remains committed to extending its CSI footprint in Boteti and partnering with entities whose primary goal is to positively transform the lives of Batswana, particularly in Boteti,” she said.
Okie also said that Debswana cares deeply about the environment and, as such, they take an active interest in environmental conservation.
Among some of the notable achievements regarding environmental conservation, she said that they have created the Orapa Game Park which is a vital sanctuary for various wildlife species. She also said that in 2011 they partnered with one of their business partners (Caterpillar) and donated 4000 citrus and indigenous trees in 12 villages in the Boteti region to enhance the quality of the environment.
“Furthermore, OLDM in 2011 donated 30 zebras to Tachila Nature Reserve. The gesture demonstrated Debswana’s commitment to environmental and biodiversity conservation,” she said.
Touching on some of the challenges that they are facing regarding community or environmental projects, Okie said that majority of proposals that they receive from members of the community seeking financial assistance on these projects are focused on small projects that do not necessarily have a big impact on the larger community. She further said that some of the requests are from individuals seeking funding for their own business interests which is against the mandate of their CSI.
“The objective of our CSI is to invest in projects that will benefit a group and not individuals,” she concluded.