Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become dominant in business reporting across the world.
CSR is concerned with what is- or should be- the relationship between global, governments of countries and individual citizens (Crowther & Aras, 2018). Crowther & Aras (2018) further argues that more locally CSR is concerned with the relationship between a corporation and the local society in which it resides or operates.
The individual actions of companies or corporations undertaking CSR measure voluntary and now not standardised- or operate without a proper legislation.
Several commentators posit that legislation (a clear policy statement) is required so that it becomes mandatory component of business activities than voluntary. It is without doubt that companies play a pivotal role in the society and therefore should contribute to growth in social issues.
It is worth noting, however, that the awareness of CSR is not a new development- and the concern for society and environment can be traced back to the beginning of time. It has now become a new buzzword in state governance the world over, Botswana is not an exception.
In Botswana’s quest to prosperity, seating presidents lured investors to set their businesses here- and by extension those companies invested in social development of local communities they operate in. One of the Botswana Vision 2016 (crafted and championed by the then President of Botswana Festus Mogae in 1998), pillar of a ‘compassionate, just and caring nation’ was not only the responsibility of government, but all players in the economy (businesses, parastatals, faith based organisation, non- government organisations, etc.) to contribute to social development.
The concept of CSR was popularised by the immediate past President of Botswana, Ian Khama between 2008 and 2018. Although there was no clear legislation, President Khama established a Presidential Housing Appeal in Office of State President to deal with contributions and management of funds and donations (like, food hampers, toiletries, blankets, wheelchairs, houses, etc.) from companies. This
It is noticeable that companies or organisations donate to the society out of their goodwill to address a need in the society, while others are expanding their business footprints or mileage.
Several companies/ organisations across the country have developed own CSR guidelines to respond to the needs of the communities they are operating in; especially to persons living with disability, orphaned and vulnerable children, destitute persons, people living in abject poverty, those affected by natural disasters and also school pupils through the adopt a school initiative.
Although, the adopt-a-school initiative, can been viewed in twofold; firstly material need, most companies donate academic materials and stimulating equipments to pupil and schools. Secondly, organisations contribute personnel to train pupils to close gap in knowledge and often agree on short to long term partnerships.
However, these acts of philanthropy are often abused by some organisations or establishments, for mileage or personal gain. The recent surge in philanthropy ahead of the 2019 general elections has raised eyebrows and discontentment across the country.
Those in the helping professions like social workers question the manner in which the donations are done, especially carrying the camera and filming the distresses of the beneficiaries.
Others justify the carrying of the camera, others don’t. Those who do, feel the camera should be carried to properly document their milestones, while others feel filming the beneficiaries, erode their “inherent worth dignity”.
The filming and parading of beneficiaries furthermore reverses the intended purpose of a benevolence gesture. It is against this background that I argue that there is a need for CSR policy/ legislation in Botswana. The piece of legislation will guide the overall CSR initiatives.
*Buriel Motlhanka is a Development Studies (Sociology) & Social Work graduate from the University of Botswana, and a contributor at CommunityFiles