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ZIMBABWE:THE EMPOWERMENT TOOL OF SOCIAL CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY, A WEAPON IN ENDING ABSOLUTE POVERTY IN MINING COMMUNITIES

June 9, 2018

By NEVISON MPOFU

ARDA Transau homes where villagers from Chiadzwa were resettled.

ARDA Transau homes where villagers from Chiadzwa were resettled.

Around the world today, no-one argues that mining needs high Social Corporate Responsibility since it is heavily impacted by upsurge of diseases like Pneumoconiosis   , silicosis, asbestosis, lung and cardio-vascular diseases which affects the heart.

Apart from that, generally, these communities are vehemently affected by socio, economic and political factors which vulnerably expose them into abject poverty. The fact on ground is of economic problems which have forced some other mines to close at the risk of workers.

Research done by Health Focus a SADC regional organization based in Johannesburg , South Africa records most countries of the world  having had worked tirelessly to raise standards of living of those in the mining  industry .

Such kind of researches  have over time been  verified their authenticity by the Don Jones  Sustainability Index together with a Canadian company called Barrick Gold Corporation  which has done Social Corporate Responsibility in Tanzania in areas of Sustainable Education and Energy development .

Zimbabwe has made foreseeable efforts in the area of Social Corporate Responsibility by relocating Chiadzwa people to Arda Transau where they were settled. In this regard , Infrastructural development in terms of housing, water, sewer, Blair toilets, electricity, roads and basically what is needed stands vital.

Although many were supported with school uniforms and sportswear especially with schools, this is just a drop in an ocean. There is need to improve on the lives of the people in terms of Health and Education standards including Infrastructural development from grass   -roots levels.

One of the local born of the Chiadzwa family Wiseman Chiadzwa said although these mining companies took much effort to resettle people from the area , much was looked towards in terms of further developments , however several challenges impedes on community development in terms of Infrastructural development in the Arda Transau area ,

‘’Their Social Corporate Responsibility was supposed to focus on the health of the workers , improving quality of their work , ethical standards , reach national and international standards in terms of quality of service delivery specifically on Health and Education at the site of new location .

‘’The problem lies with lack of adequate resources to raise the standards of living of the general population in the Chiadzwa and Marange area  . In fact , Social Corporate Responsibility  must focus on three areas of concern , that is the 3 basic needs , food , shelter and clothing and 2 humanitarian sectors , health and education , then 3 main sectors of the economy , Agriculture , Mining and manufacturing industry basically for food security in the area’’said Chiadzwa  .

An EXPERT in the development area looking at Sustainable Development Goals,  Isaac Kwesu , Chamber of Mines Chief Executive Officer said the fact that the country is going under difficulties could be the main reason why some areas of bigger concern are left vacant , but there is need to pronounce development in every area where mining  takes place .

‘’In order to achieve Sustainable Development Goals of  the United Nations launched in 2015 , mining companies had to fulfill  on obligations of the Millennium Declaration , support Education and Health in the area , thereby  improving quality of life of the people .

‘’Besides , there is need to develop Infrastructure related to Agricultural schemes so as to achieve on reducing poverty by promoting FOOD SECURITY , INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT on Health and Education .

‘’ Dwelling on the multiple fact an Economist contacted for his comment on the green side of the story Prosper  Chitambira an ECONOMIST with an organization called LEDRIZ said Social Corporate Responsibility means that there is need  for economic development in terms of building up on social capital to boost INVESTIMENTS in INDUSTRIALISATION in order to create employment opportunities in the area

‘’Therefore, SOCIAL and HUMAN CAPITAL drives DEVELOPMENT meant to re duce poverty in the area. However , because of economic difficulties , it is tough to achieve this because on top of that , there is need for trainings so that those people can be fully capacitated , equipped with knowledge of development ‘’, he said .

It is evident that some of the companies immensely transformed positively the lives of communities in which they work and operate. This is possible through local community engagement, skills development, community enterprise development and Infrastructure sharing.

Some policies and laws induced in the Environmental Management Act, Indigenization and Empowerment Act, Mines and Minerals Act and the Code on Corporate Governance looks at corporate social investments in the country. Some mining companies have adhered to the policies and acts related to Social Corporate Responsibility and there are developments documented by some Human Rights Organizations.

Companies are globally investing large sums of money into social programs that aim to address some challenges faced from high levels of poverty and lack of access to social services such as health- care , education , climate change and natural disasters .

Social Corporate Responsibility means voluntary actions undertaken by mining companies to improve living conditions socially, economically and environmentally for local communities to reduce negative impacts.

Under the Environment, the Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA], an evaluation of a project is meant to determine mining impact on the environment as it affects surrounding communities in terms of air , water and land pollution .

In terms of Social Corporate Responsibility following laws of the country and applicable community values , there is need for paying back , cultivating back to the community by addressing community needs and concerns at heart looking at what really matters .

To a certain extent the value of community share ownership gives ample confidence to the communities which later enjoy their rights in terms of getting a share of what is taking place in the area .But have communities up to now benefitted  from these mining companies operating in their areas ?

Another Expert in the area of Social Corporate Responsibility, a Lawyer by profession, Veronica Zano of Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association contacted for a comment regarding this, said one good example is Murowa Diamonds situated in the south-east of Zimbabwe in  Zvishavane District which has a Health , Safety , Environment and Community Policy  .

‘’One of the mining companies respecting these policies is Murowa Diamonds  .I t believes in its zero harm goal which respects rights of employees  , contractors and the surrounding communities  in accordance with the laws of the country .

‘’The company’s policy outlines commitments to prevent incidents that may lead to occupational injuries, illnesses, pollution, property and environmental damage. Above all, it is the ergonomics, health and rights of workers to food, shelter and protective clothing at work . Then, the issue of surrounding communities prevention from pollution and the need to engage them in community share ownership .

‘’The mining company has a community action plan embedded on working in partnership with local communities. It mainly focuses on capacity building, skills transfer, business development and economic empowerment of local communities .Other projects done already are success stories in Health and Education infrastructure development ‘’, she concluded .

The true story of development is related to Mutambi Rural Health Centre built by Murowa Diamonds in partnership with the local community. It also built a primary school  called Gundekunde in partnership with the local community . In the area, it also constructed is a factory shell to promote skills development for the unemployed youth in  area . The shell has compartments which cater for various skills development in areas of carpentry, sewing, welding and others.

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