Corporate Social Responsibilities
In most SADC countries the law is silent on how the communities in the areas where mining takes place should be developed, or how an investor should contribute to the development of affected communities. Therefore, it is not surprising that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in most SADC countries is voluntary and mostly a public relations tool for the largest mining companies. The cost and effects of CSR activities are often negligible and seldom assist the communities in which they are undertaken since CSR policies do not often take into consideration, or genuinely seek to address, the negative impact of mining operations. Most mining companies have limited interest in CSR.
Recommended Principles and Guidelines for Corporate Social Responsibility
i. Mining companies must ensure that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) applies to their core activities and create policies that encourage local communities to provide goods and services so as to promote sustainable development in the area they operate.
ii. Mining companies must have a legal obligation to invest in the communities where they operate over and above royalties they are contracted to pay.
iii. Monitoring and oversight mechanisms, involving Government, Parliament and civil society, need to be put in place to review the performance of CSR projects.
iv. CSR projects must directly involve the communities surrounding the mine through genuine community participation in project design, implementation and monitoring throughout the life of the mine.
v. Government must establish a comprehensive CSR policy for extractive companies by consolidating existing voluntary CSR initiatives and guidelines that have a proven track record in terms of concrete contributions to local development (environmental protection, decent working conditions, promoting human rights, enhancing relations with local communities, developing local companies, conducting effective training programmes, reinvesting profits, etc.).
vi. The CSR model should be finalised through a multi-stakeholder process, which includes civil society, communities, mines and state representatives.
vii. While respecting basic principles, CSR projects must be tailor-made and must meet the needs of all stakeholders – shareholders, communities, suppliers and customers.
viii. All mining companies must contribute to a centralised, independently-administered fund that communities can draw from to access independent expertise in any dispute with extractive companies.