HUMAN rights continue to take second place to profitability whilst corporate social responsibility remains a theoretical aberration in the mining sector, says JCTR.
In a statement, the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflections (JCTR) stated that local communities were usually left behind from enormous economic gains in the mining sector as social conditions showed increasing poverty, unemployment, prostitution, poor health, inadequate housing and infrastructure, and the high influx of unaccompanied documented and non-documented migrants.
JCTR cited North-Western Province which had seen massive investments in the mining sector, housing three large mines namely Kansanshi, Lumwana and Kalumbila.
“Corporate social responsibility in the mining communities is relatively ineffective in terms of facilitating sustainable development as it has remained a philanthropic connotation and is not taken as a social policy imperative,” JCTR observed.
In fact, in most areas corporate social responsibility is either negligible or non-existent. Communities continue to experience the consequence of the gaps between policy and practice, policy and human rights and practice and human rights, which impact heavily on the potential for sustainable development.
It further called for a law to allow for sharing of proceeds from mineral revenues between the host communities of the mines and the government.
JCTR stated that for the mining industry to be successful in the long term, they needed to obtain the support of the communities in which they operated.
According to JCTR, sound relationships and cooperation between the different stakeholders – mining companies, government and communities was essential for the sustainability of the mining sector.
“However, the Centre has observed that human rights continue to take second place to profitability whilst corporate social responsibility remains a theoretical aberration,” JCTR stated.
CSR should be linked to the government’s broad development agenda and more specifically, its social development goals (i.e. poverty reduction) and CSR will then become a public policy issue. Government has to create an environment where clear and meaningful partnerships are established with the private sector and civil society organisations. The latter can be used to act as implementers of firms’ CSR programmes, especially at community levels. A strong intellectual orientation to CSR is needed and community development prioritised and be the core business of CSR.
It also stated that its Basic Needs Basket (BNB) for a family of five living in Solwezi stood at K4,116.84 in June 2017, K58.29 higher than the previous month.
JCTR attributed the increase in the BNB to increased costs in some food items which included kapenta, fish and vegetables.
“Non-food items like charcoal increased from K75.60 to K93.60. There has been a reduction in the price of mealie-meal that reduced from K96.42 to K90.35. The increasing in prices of commodities is attributed to increase economic activities brought about by the mining firms and high influx of population in the province into Solwezi,” stated JCTR.
The Basic Needs Basket still remains high for most families of local communities as most of them are not working in these firms. The high cost of commodities continues to deprive families of the required basic needs and nutritious meals they are required to have in a day in order to live a healthy life.