RES is increasing efforts in embedding a systematic approach in the management of relations with the communities neighbouring the business, to harness already existing interdependencies. This is envisioned to maximise value for both this stakeholder group and the corporation, in line with sustainable development best practice.

As a building block towards achieving this, the company commissioned a survey, through THN Consultancy which was responsible for conducting the community perception survey. The agency visited the different communities surrounding RES – including Hlane, Tsambokhulu, Shewula, Dvokolwako, Mnjoli, Malibeni, Khuphuka and Lomahasha, interviewing over 1 600 community members in total.

After the survey feedback was collected and analysed, community members were invited to a session to deliberate on the findings and proposed way forward. Amongst the present community members were RES staff members – Corporate Social Investment office, Security and Livestock and Game.

Group Public Affairs Manager, Sifiso Nyembe said, “The main purpose of this gathering is to share the survey findings with the aim of fostering inclusivity, accountability, and responsiveness in the development of informed interventions. Such engagements are imperative in integrating all stakeholders’ economic, social and environmental interests and responsibilities into RES operations.” He went on to say, “RES will provide more platforms for meaningful engagement and feedback with communities beyond this gathering.”

The RES team took this opportunity to alley some of the challenges faced by both parties such as increased levels of crime, seeking shared interventions on how to curb them. This included theft of copper, cane & watering equipment as well as drowning in water canals and poaching to name a few. Other Challenges are cattle being let into fields and damaging the sugarcane, starting of wildfires and the removal of caution signs from designated areas amongst other issues.

Security Co-ordinator, Sibusiso Dlamini said, “These crimes/challenges faced are a threat to both the company and the community.” He further highlighted that the consequences are not limited to damage and loss to the company but, with these crimes comes arrests, injury, and job losses.

In closing, Dlamini encouraged community members to report if they observe any suspicious activity on the company’s toll-free line. He pleaded that if anyone comes across evidence of a crime that has taken place, it should not be tempered with it.

“All criminal activities and/or anything suspicious should be reported immediately on the company’s toll-free line – 6008.” He said.

In an interview with Zephaniah Thwala from the Hlane community, he said, “We are grateful to RES for such a gathering because every community needs to have programmes that will keep the community members, especially the youth engaged to prevent idleness which can lead to ill-behaviour. The inclusion of young people in such forums will go a long way in helping them realise that they have an important role to play in the development of our communities.”

Babe Joseph Mgabhi, Dvokolwako Indvuna echoed babe Thwala and said that he believes that it is very important to involve the youth in the leadership system. “A lot of the issues brought forward can be avoided if the youth is empowered.” He further said that the community should really be working hand in hand with the company in making it possible to succeed because the company is the anchor of our communities and the backbone of the economy. “The destruction of the company is the destruction of our communities and by extension, the economy.”, he said.  

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