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A River Runs Through It

BRUCE CLEAVER

Perhaps it is a result of the global lockdowns, but as I, like you, have worked to manage through the immediate crisis and plot the course forward, I have found myself longing for one of my favourite places – Botswanas Okavango Delta. The Delta is a place of unparalleled natural beauty, a source of life and renewal for the world and a welcome reminder for me of better days ahead.

The story of the Delta starts far away from Botswana in the highlands of Angola, where almost all the water that will one day end up in the Delta begins as rainfall, collecting in lakes and rivers until it joins the Cuito and Cubango Rivers. The two rivers become one in the south of the country where they form the famous Okavango River, which carries its water across Namibia and into Botswana, ultimately bringing the Okavango Delta to life.

All along these mighty rivers communities have flourished over generations, but their livelihoods, and the Delta itself, could now be at risk. Along the paths of the rivers the risk of the diversion of water by unregulated agriculture, and erosion caused by deforestation and fires, threaten (if unchecked) to change the waterflows and alter this ecosystem forever. Seemingly small unilateral interventions unintentionally conspire to threaten an entire system with potentially irrevocable outcomes.

In the diamond industry we often use the language of the river: upstream, midstream and downstream. When the industry is working well, we focus on the relative health of each part of the river, build partnerships across it and navigate the periodic droughts and flash floods, but we always seek a strong current that carries diamonds through the value chain, downstream.

Today, however, we are faced with a challenge not to one part of the river, but to the entire river. When this crisis ultimately recedes, as it will, if the upstream is intact but there is no functioning downstream, or a midstream but a significantly depleted source upstream, then we have no functioning river system at all.

While all companies, including ours, are taking rapid action to brace for the crisis, that action must be responsible and sustainable and recognise that just as the challenge is a shared one, so, too, must be the solutions.

Around our mines, in the worlds major diamond cutting centres, and in the communities in which our employees live, the continuity of our operations is central to our people, the local economy and entire nations. The salaries we pay and the services we provide and purchase help families put food on the table and manage their health. In many cases, the provision of water, food, energy and health and transportation systems depend on our operations.

Before we are corporate citizens, we are global citizens. We have a collective interest and a collective responsibility for delivering social outcomes that work for businesses and communities across the value chain.

In a global industry, maintaining the free and unencumbered flow of goods across the value chain is essential to ensuring the continued flow of funds that mean individuals and families have enough income to manage their diet and hygiene and meet the needs of those who depend on them most.

The workers across the entire diamond value chain around the world are the bedrock of the industry. We all want to shield our people from the economic impact of the crisis, but it is precisely because we are all connected that it is impossible to unilaterally protect the welfare of one group of people without forsaking another.

Doing so weakens the entire value chain and, ironically, hurts those we are trying to protect. We have a collective responsibility to implement responsible and sustainable solutions that support all parts of the value chain.

For De Beers part, we have already significantly reduced the flow of diamonds downstream. Most of our mines suspended production to prepare for the virus and are now operating or preparing to operate at far lower levels than normal. We cancelled Sight 3, providing our Sightholders with 100% flexibility to defer their purchases, and have announced that we will produce approximately seven million fewer carats this year than we originally intended (nearly a quarter of our total production). In addition, almost all other diamond producers have halted or significantly reduced supply, with some mines unlikely to return to production.

We mine a valuable, finite and depleting resource. We will only sell it when the demand is such that it can create sustainable value for all of us. However, just as we are not compelling our clients to purchase, we strongly believe it is counterproductive for any part of the industry to compel them not to purchase.

While the economic impacts of the pandemic will be different in the main consumer markets, the encouraging signals coming out of China point to the beginnings of a recovery. Consumer demand has started to return in the country as the lockdown has eased. People are visiting shops and malls and re-engaging with the world.

While it is too early to draw conclusions, pent-up demand from delayed weddings compressed into a single season, and self-purchases to reward hardships overcome, are showing signs of lifting the Chinese diamond market out of its months-long hibernation.

This is an unprecedented moment for the world. It is a health crisis and an economic crisis, but it is so much more. It is also a crisis of connection. As people re-emerge from lockdown, they will seek to mark those relationships that are most important in their lives, and we believe diamonds will play a meaningful part in that ritual.

After demand shocks, we have found that people buy fewer, but better things. But this moment is different. The pandemic is both global and intensely personal. All of us have been personally touched by the virus itself, its economic toll, or both. The crisis has forced all of us to examine what is important in our lives and how we live them.

While we are physically distancing, we are growing closer than ever in the relationships that matter. We are appreciating the most important people in our lives and yearning for connection. In this new moment, I believe people will seek to purchase fewer, but more meaningful things.

Throughout time the diamond has served as a powerful symbol of connection and meaning. It has always been attached to lifes most precious moments and relationships and represented a store of value, but increasingly we believe a diamond is becoming a store of values.

Over the coming months in our communication with consumers, as we prepare to come back from the crisis, we will increasingly draw on these values. We will remind people of the role diamonds play in shaping a better world and in forging meaningful connections. And just as they have had to find innovative ways to stay connected with loved ones, we will find new ways to connect with them.

The lockdowns and the rapid change to how we all access goods and services has shifted consumers expectations forever. The trends that had begun to take hold before the crisis will accelerate as we emerge from it digital supply chains, the pre-eminence of data, the application of artificial intelligence and the power of brands, amongst others, are even more essential for the future of the industry, and all depend on a collective approach.

In Botswana, the future of the Delta depends on the sustainability of the entire river system, just as the rivers depend on a vibrant Delta for water to continue to flow freely.

Like the Okavango, our industry faces a collective challenge. Our interconnectedness means that the understandable instinct to protect one part of the value chain can only come at the expense of the others. But if we pull together and each take responsible action, knowing that we are all connected, we will be ready for the diamond recovery to come.

After all, were all in the same boat!
Until we see each other again, stay safe and pull together.
An open letter from Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group

WeekendLife

BOTSWANA TO HOST MISS WORLD 2026

6th December 2023

Even though Botswana has over the years been performing extremely poorly at the Miss World competition, the country has confirmed that it will be hosting the beauty festival in 2026. Initially, the country was to host Miss World next year, something it failed to confirm before deadline. Director at Miss Botswana, Benjamin Raletsatsi, says Botswana will be ready then to host all participants. Miss Botswana Top 25 finalists left the boot camp yesterday. Quite shocking though, Miss Botswana team is still failing basics as responding to media inquiries on time yet it is dangerously hoping to host an event of high status

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WeekendLife

DJ Sway ‘saved’ the YAMAs

22nd November 2023

DJ Sway, the daring and ambitious on-air presenter of Yarona FM, played a crucial role in saving the radio station’s music awards, known as the YAMAs. The event was initially dry and disorganized, but DJ Sway, who co-hosted with Pearl Thusi, injected life into the show. However, things took a turn for the worse when Pearl Thusi abruptly left the stage, leaving DJ Sway to carry on alone. Despite the unexpected setback, DJ Sway rose to the occasion and captivated the audience, effectively putting an end to the drama caused by Pearl Thusi.

In an exclusive interview after the YAMAs, DJ Sway revealed the behind-the-scenes chaos that unfolded during the event. He acknowledged the script editors, Phalana and Hope, who worked tirelessly to reedit the script and adapt it to a one-host format. Despite the last-minute changes, DJ Sway remained composed and focused, thanks to the support of his colleagues, such as Owen Rampha, Katlego Rakola, Tshepang Motsisi (DJ Easy), and LB.

When asked about his initial reaction to the unexpected turn of events, DJ Sway admitted to feeling saddened by how things ended. However, he credited Pearl Thusi for giving him a much-needed confidence boost during his moment of doubt. She reminded him that he was destined for greatness and that he didn’t need big stars to succeed. With her words of encouragement, DJ Sway regained his composure and approached the rest of the show with the same professionalism and charisma he displays on the radio.

To overcome the challenges he faced, DJ Sway relied on his radio skills and calm personality. He engaged with the audience as if he were speaking to a single person, pointing out individuals in the crowd to create a more intimate connection. He also expressed gratitude for his backstage team, who provided support and ensured the smooth running of the show.

DJ Sway expressed satisfaction in being seen as the saving grace of the YAMAs. He believed that he fulfilled his role as a host and brought joy to the Yarona FM board, his family, and his fans. Despite his success, DJ Sway’s journey has not been without hardships. He has experienced the loss of his mother and sister, which has left a lasting impact on him. While he continues to grieve, he seeks solace in therapy sessions and relies on his father for emotional support.

DJ Sway’s dedication to his craft and ability to overcome adversity make him a remarkable figure in the radio industry. His vibrant personality and deep knowledge of music have made him a perfect fit for Yarona FM. Despite the challenges he has faced, DJ Sway remains determined to make a positive impact and bring joy to his listeners. With his talent and resilience, there is no doubt that DJ Sway will continue to thrive in his career and leave a lasting legacy in the world of radio.

 

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WeekendLife

Chef Gustos walk of shame

22nd November 2023

Chef Gustos, the renowned hitmaker, recently experienced what can only be described as a walk of shame at the 8th edition of the Yarona FM Music Awards (YAMAs). Despite being nominated a whopping seven times, he failed to secure a single win. Ouch!

The night was filled with surprises, drama, and controversy, but the biggest winner of the evening was Han C, who walked away with three awards, including Best Pop and Best Male Single for his hit song, “Sebinki.” Han C graciously announced that he would be donating P10,000 from his winnings to his fellow nominees, promoting a spirit of togetherness among artists. What a noble gesture!

Meanwhile, Chef Gustos found himself on the losing end of several categories, including People’s Choice Artist of the Year, which he had won in the past. He seemed unfazed by the loss, stating, “People know that ‘Away’ was big, but they won’t stop me.” It’s clear that Chef Gustos is determined to continue making music, regardless of the awards he receives.

However, he did express his frustration with the outcome, suggesting that the awards may be corrupt. He declined to comment further, citing the need to protect his brand and maintain good relationships with corporate clients. It’s understandable that he wants to avoid any potential damage to his future prospects.

In fact, Chef Gustos went so far as to request that Yarona FM not nominate him for future YAMAs. It seems he wants to distance himself from the disappointment and focus on his music without the pressure of awards. Perhaps this decision will allow him to create freely and without the burden of expectations.

While Chef Gustos may have experienced a walk of shame at the YAMAs, it’s important to remember that awards do not define an artist’s talent or success. His fans still appreciate his music, and he continues to have gigs with corporate clients. So, despite the disappointment, Chef Gustos remains optimistic about his future in the industry.

In the end, the YAMAs may have been a letdown for Chef Gustos, but he’s determined to keep moving forward. He won’t let a lack of awards dampen his spirits or hinder his creativity. And who knows, maybe next time he’ll come back stronger and prove that he’s deserving of recognition. After all, the true measure of an artist’s success lies in the hearts of their fans, not in shiny trophies.

 

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