Hardly 30 kilometres from Botswana’s premiere diamond mine, Jwaneng, lies a humble poverty-stricken village known as Lefhoko in the Mabutsane sub-district.
There was great excitement in the village recently when Debswana Jwaneng Mine handed over five standard LA2 houses to the community. The project, dubbed ‘Diamond Village’ built to the tune of P1.5 million was answering a need by the village to house government officers such as police officers and nurses who have been transferred to the village. Until then, it was noted that it took at least two years for officers to resume their duties due to lack of accommodation.
The Mine’s General Manager Albert Milton said the donation is a culmination of a series of meetings between themselves, Kgosi Nthomang, the Village Development Committee (VDC) and Mabutsane Sub-District leadership. He said the project, dubbed the Diamond Village was executed after they had looked at the impact the project would have on the community and the number of people that would be affected by the donation.
“We strongly believe that this project will have a long-term benefit to the community through capital generated monthly by the VDC. The rentals from this project will be channeled towards socio-economic development that will eventually transform the landscape of Lefhoko,” explained Milton. He added that due to collaboration with Mabutsane Sub District Council, rentals for tenants to the VDC will be deducted directly from source, which will ensure cash flow sustainability of the project. Milton said the mine is always looking for forward thinking initiatives that will address the problem of employer dependency. “Mines like lots of businesses have a finite shelf-life, and we will not always be available to fund and support the local communities. If we can capitalise our Social Investment money into a business principled approach, with money generation and livelihood creation as its focus, we hope to leave a lasting-legacy thriving long after we have gone,” he said.
He shared that the mine is involved in a wide range of community development initiatives, such as the construction of a kitchen for Lefhoko Primary School. Currently the school does not have a kitchen and during rainy seasons, it is difficult to feed the learners. Not far from Lefhoko, in the village of Tsonyane, Milton said they would soon hand over a fully-fledged tribal administration office block while also upgrading the clinic. In Maboane village, the mine will hand over a water reservoir and an equipped borehole that will greatly improve water reticulation in the village. A kgotla office block for the village of Mahotswane is also in the works this year.
All the projects within the mine’s Zone of Influence this year are expected to cost P10 million. Expressing gratitude as he accepted the LA2 houses, Kgosi Biki Nthomang of Lefhoko said benefits to the community was the quality housing units for families which translates into human dignity. Not just that, but the fact that local building contractors were being used during construction of the houses, Kgosi Nthomang said it created jobs and economic livelihood in the poverty-stricken village where source of employment for many is through Ipelegeng.