Mines take a lot out of the community, but do they give anyting back. Mining corporations in South Africa boast that they are giving back to the community by investing in the developmental projects. From the commnunity we hear about their frustration in getting help from mines for their small projects. We spoke with members of the Wekom community
Thalesmo approached Harmony Gold for financial aid as a capital to get their businesses off the ground.
Thalesmo Enterprises is a small business that aims to manufacture and supply the mine, Harmony Gold, with the PPE(Personal Protective Equipment) material. They have sent their funding proposal to the mine on the 17th of June 2015 to.Thus far, they have been sent to the incubation centre to register with Harmony Gold as the prospective supplier so they can get a vendor number.
Zwelinzima said that they needed urgent funding on their business as they were ‘trying to avoid the terms and conditions of receiving a loan from financial institutions like banks.’We asked Zwelinzaima what will it mean to them if they received the financial aid.He said, “This business opportunity might be our key to strive for more secure financial life”
These three shareholders of Thalesmo Enteprise respectively hold matric, N4 of Business Management and Mechanical Engineering certificates as their basic qualifications.
“We all know that it is difficult to find jobs these days hence we decided to create our own’’, said Zwelinzima. We asked him what other business is there if they did not get support from the mines. He replied “ We will do the type of business I cannot mention”. Zwelinzima did not want to explain further from his short answer.
There is scarcity of information related to CSI programmes by the Harmony Gold because Thalesom Enterprises learnt about CSI from another business man in Allanridge as a word of mouth having not seen or heard about it in the Harmony adverts. “We had to stand in unnecessary queues, sign multiple contracts and undergo background checking” Zwelinzima told us which added to frustrations encountered while applying for the financial aid. He concluded by saying, “Harmony can improve their CSI programme by educating community about CSI operations.”
The second group we met was Uncedo, a home based care and pre-school for the vulnerable. We interviewed with Maria Twane on the 13th of in Kutlwanong,Odendaalsrus.
“We care for the patients at home and we look after the vulnerable children”, said Mme Maria. During 2012 they submitted their proposal to the Harmony mines in request of funding. “We needed a funding that was to finance our program, give our members a stipend and we needed resources for our facility” added Mme Maria.
Most of the members who were volunteering at Uncedo were semi-literate but having home based care skills ‘most of us did not have matric while others only have sub A, grade 1,but we received training in HIV and Aids pallative skills.
The mine asked us to elect representatives to meet them. Unfortunately these representatives ended up not reporting back to the members.”We elected Jabu Mhlengu and Rev. Oliva to represent us on the negotiation table but they ended up benefiting alone without us.”
Uncedo did not receive the report to this day but saw the lives of their representatives improving daily.
From these interviews we realise that Harmony Gold lacks capacity in handling CSI program judging from both frustrations of the interviewees. The responsibility is with Harmony Gold because they have all the resources to run a proper programme.
People in the community are generally unaware that there is a CSI programme. Many gorups we interviewed said that they have not requested support from the CSI programme because they have have not heard about it. The popular view is that financial aid from the mines only serves as loans. It tells that the information is only available to the literate ones and bigger companies. Not the people who need it the most.
We urge the mine to do the community outreach and briefings to incline communities with this program. CSI must be a truth not a lie.
Zanele Stuurman ( Allanridge)