Harmony setting the precedent for community development


Mashego Mashego, executive director: stakeholder relations and corporate affairs

The mining industry has always played a huge role in the South African economy. It has the power to change lives, especially among the most disadvantaged in rural communities. Harmony Gold is leading the way forward. Leadership speaks to Mashego Mashego, executive director: stakeholder relations and corporate affairs of Harmony Gold.

Please give us a brief rundown of your working and educational history.

I started my career as a teacher before joining Eskom as a human resources manager and progressed in the field at Atlantis Diesel Engines and Foskor respectively. I joined Harmony in 2005 as the group human resources development manager and was promoted to general manager at the Evander operations. I was appointed as the human resources executive in 2007, and in 2010, as executive director. My role has evolved over the years from the executive director: organisational development and transformation, to the executive director: stakeholder relations and now to the executive director: corporate affairs.

Talk us through your daily responsibilities within your role at Harmony Gold.

I am part of the Group CEO structure, which cuts across the whole of the Harmony Gold Mines. Our collective role as a team is to draft and oversee the implementation of the company‘s policies and strategy. My responsibility then extends to the role of corporate affairs and stakeholder relations. This role includes establishing and maintaining relationships with the Government at different levels across borderlines.

I also work with host communities to establish and maintain relationships with different community structures. A large part of my responsibility is ensuring that the Harmony brand remains in good stature; is embraced by those it touches; and that it also creates a lasting positive impact for all stakeholders.

Please tell us a bit more about Harmony Gold and the initiatives that you are involved in.

Harmony is a gold mining company that conducts its activities in South Africa and in Papua New Guinea, one of the world’s premier new gold-copper regions. The company was established on 25 August 1950 and with 70 years in operation, Harmony is currently South Africa’s largest gold producer. Harmony’s business activities cover the entire gold mining value chain—from exploring for prospects; conducting feasibility studies and developing, buying and operating mines; through to closing and rehabilitating mines at the end of their productive lives. Besides our core business, Harmony is also heavily involved in social impact initiatives that aim to develop and uplift our local mining communities.

Mining is a significant sector in South Africa. How does Harmony ensure the sustainability of jobs within the company?

We have invested quite significantly in training and development for employees. The company provides financial support for those employees that would like to improve their qualifications and competencies. There are also internal development programmes, ranging from adult basic education and training, through to leadership development programmes. These initiatives are all intended to ensure that the employees are meaningfully employed.

The healthy relationship established with organised labour allows management to engage openly on company sustainability issues, which obviously ensures sustainable jobs for the employees.

What is Harmony’s stance on the financial relief that it provides for communities?

We believe the communities where we have a presence are a big and important part of us. Currently, Harmony is invested in several initiatives across the education, agriculture, infrastructure, sport, arts and culture sectors. We run a high-level sports academy in Virginia in the Free State that caters for two sporting codes, being soccer and rugby, and that benefits the youth from disadvantaged communities. We are proud of our youth, some of whom have gone on to become professionals in their sporting codes.

We run an adult basic literacy programme for our miners and their families in order to develop their reading and writing skills. In late 2019, we also launched two agricultural projects in the North West—the vegetable garden and livelihood projects that have already started yielding positive results for locals. We have also partnered with Star Schools to assist high school learners to improve Mathematics and English, and so far, our learners have maintained an above 80% pass rate in those subjects.

The company supports the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment initiative and legislation. Opportunities are given to various previously disadvantaged entrepreneurs at different levels of the company to do business with Harmony. This has a positive impact on creating jobs outside the company.

Please provide examples of the socio-economic impact that Harmony Gold has made in South Africa.

Harmony actively recruits its labour force from our local communities thus contributing to job creation and economic development. Harmony has initiated a community-training centre in the Free State that trains unemployed youth in mining skills.

These young people then become available post their training to be employed by the mining sector. From its inception in 2018, approximately 300 young people have since found employment because of this initiative.

The company runs a bursary scheme that assists young people to pursue their studies at tertiary level. This scheme has an annual intake averaging 100 students per annum.

There are a number of projects that are financed through the social investment programme at Harmony. These include, but are not limited to, entrepreneurial developments, poverty alleviation programmes, early childhood development as well as sports and arts. Harmony has and continues to be the main sponsor of Enactus, a program that is implemented at tertiary institutions with the intention of creating social entrepreneurs.

Harmony’s enterprise and supplier development centres are strategically located in host communities, making it easier for small businesses and new entrants to access support without incurring exorbitant costs. The Leano funding initiative is an extension of these centres to identify and support entrepreneurs in host communities who require financial and technical start-up assistance.

How does Harmony Gold help women to achieve their goals within the organisation?

We are committed to the promotion of gender equality in our business, though we still have a long way to go. We currently have a project called, Bereka Mosadi loosely translated to Working Woman, which is a community initiative that focuses on highlighting the women excelling at their various leadership roles at Harmony. It gives recognition to and profiles women who are in both the underground and surface operations.

We are in the midst of the 4th Industrial Revolution—how has technology benefited the organisation and mining as a whole?

This one area can be said to be early days for Harmony. Safety is our number one priority; as such, technology is viewed as primarily a means to, amongst others, improve the safety of our employees underground.

Our organisation has connected employees through a mobile technology platform, which fosters two-way communication. This not only allows workers and management to stay in touch, but it’s also a way to improve production and create alerts of dangerous working areas to ensure their safety.

Could the mining industry play a bigger role in community development?

Harmony, as the largest gold producing mine in South Africa, is leading not only in the industry but in social impact, and we believe that the mining industry should continue playing a pivotal role in the development of the youth and in improving the overall livelihood of our communities. 

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