/ 22 January 2009

Diamonds add sparkle for disabled

Communities situated around diamond mines are often left out of the spoils of the mines. But Ponahola De Beers Disabled Persons Trust aims to change this.

The Disabled Persons Employment Equity Programme (Deep) finds its roots in South Africa’s BEE policy and originates from the BEE deal between De Beers Consolidated Mines and Ponahola Holdings.

“This project reflects the challenge presented to us: How can a major resource such as a newly commissioned diamond mine act as a stimulus to local resource development in a resource-poor area?” Ponahola said in its Investing Awards entry.

“If we could creatively generate an interface between the local development dynamic and the ‘mini-economy’ of the mine, we could then endeavour to produce a more sustainable and longer development dynamic.”

Deep’s research indicated that people with disabilities are among the most marginalised sections of society and that is why it decided to focus on this area. It has partnered with Tumahole Self-Help Association of People with Disabilities near Parys in the Free State and helps with the management and provides technical input.

Deep’s Parys-based pilot project was granted R754 016 to get it going.

“Through this partnership it was possible to move far beyond the narrow confines of BEE compliance benchmarks to create a development initiative of substance,” the programme said.