The Namibian Police and the office of the governor of Kunene region recently visited the Northern Namibia Development Company (NNDC), a diamond mining company situated at Kunene River in the Epupa constituency.
According to information from the NNDC head office, the Exclusive Prospecting Licence (EPL) 2633 was originally granted in 1998, and this was managed by various entities until 2006 when the NNDC (Pty) LTD took over ownership. The NNDC obtained the Mining License (ML) 156 in July 2018. The NNDC initially had a compliment of 51 employees, of which between 7 and 20 were retained onsite during the care and maintenance period of various activities.
All its employees remained at work but the total gradually decreased to 47 through natural segregation during the current care and maintenance period.
During April 2020, after a strategic review of the economic impact on the mining diamond sector in the medium to long-term, as a result of the Covid-19 and, consequently, the global economic downturn, NNDC decided to keep activities under care and maintenance, thereby retrenching 40 non-essential staff. The aim of the visit by the governor and leaders of the Kunene Regional Council was to ascertain how they are coping with the Covid-19 pandemic and to establish whether the company fulfils its corporate social responsibility.
NNDC’s head of operations stated they have given about $300 000 in 2016 and the money was deposited in Agra Retail Shop as directed by the office of the late governor, Angelica Muharukua, for the drought relief food to be distributed to needy communities in the region. They assisted in various activities at Skeleton Park, and this included international coastal cleaning campaign, and they also accommodated government officials free of charge, since it is the only place present in one of the remotest parts of the country. Chairperson of the Kunene Regional Council Julius Kaujova and governor Marius Sheya were not impressed by the idea of giving food as corporate social responsibility, since there are several pressing social needs in Kunene region, such as health or educational needs, an aspect the mine was supposed to consider.
“The communication between the mine and the regional leaders need to be kept alive so that we can be communicating from time-to-time, especially when you need any help. We are always open to give our helping hand,” said Johan Van Rooyen, the operations manager at the diamond mine.
Sheya said: “In future, if we need your help, we will rather ask you to maybe drill a borehole, or for infrastructure for a school or clinic; we will not entertain a middle man because this is some of the reasons companies are reluctant to meet government halfway because their social responsibility never reaches the intended beneficiaries”.
The downward trend of the global economy, exacerbated by the pandemic, contributed to that decision. NNDC foresees that the suspension of the operation will be over approximately the next 18 to 24 months.
During the suspension period, the mine will be under care and maintenance, managed by a skeleton of seven people. When the economic circumstances, market condition and global economy improv, all the retrenched staff will be prioritised for re-employment as per the Labour Act of Namibia.
*Selma Gumbo is an Information Officer working for the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology in Kunene region.
2020-07-13 10:06:37 | 21 days ago