Interdepartmental Task Team on the payment of ex-mineworkers: briefing

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Employment and Labour

15 November 2010
Chairperson: Ms L Yengeni (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Interdepartmental Task Team briefed the Committee on the payment of ex-mineworkers. It reported that the Task Team and the Provincial Steering Committee had been consulted by the Department of Labour; regular meetings had been held by the Task Team and the Provincial Steering Committee; the Task Team had made recommendations to the Committee after it was constituted; ex-mineworkers had started to receive payments from the Department of Health and Department of Labour; contact with the Employment Bureau of Africa had been made; the former Minister of Labour had addressed the ex-mineworkers and announced the work of the Task Team through the media; those who had legitimate claims were asked to come forward with documentation so that the Commission for the Compensation of Occupational Diseases claims could be validated; and the Minister had also engaged with the Employment Bureau of Africa to provide the Task Team with outstanding information. The Task Team conceded that not too much progress had been made since it last appeared at Parliament. It was experiencing serious challenges. There was a lack of resources ring fenced to execute the task such as finance - no budget was been allocated to the activities of the Task Team; the Department of Labour was paying for the activities of the Task Team. Another challenge was human resources – lack of full time staff allocated to the Task Team.

The representatives of the ex-mineworkers told the Committee that their colleagues were suffering financially from the delays in the payments to the mineworkers and they were hoping to be paid by December 2010.

The Chairperson urged the Task Team, the departments concerned, and the representatives of the ex-mineworkers to cooperate so that their issues could be resolved because the more they disagreed the more the ex-mineworkers would suffer. All the departments involved were supposed to contribute money so that the workers could be paid. In view of fraudulent activities, Members also told the Task Team to revisit its criteria so that the rightly qualified mineworkers were paid. Members asked why so much money was left over after the payment of some claims, how the rest of the money must be spent, and about legal controls relating to the money left over, closure of the project, the ratio of fraudulent claims, and the status of Rand Mutual Assurance.        

Meeting report

Mr Boas Soruwe, Commissioner, Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and Chairperson of the Interdepartmental Task Team (IDTT) on the payment of ex mineworkers said that each group present was represented by one person. The ex-mineworkers were represented by Mr Bernard Tholi, Mr Phumzile Dayi and Mr Patrick Nyamfu. 

Briefing by the Interdepartmental Task Team on the payment of ex-mineworkers

Mr Soruwe said that since the IDTT was last in Parliament some progress was made. The biggest progress was that there was now contact with Durban and the IDTT was able to give information to make verification so that payments could be more quickly than before.

In terms of overall progress, the IDTT and the Provincial Steering Committee (PSC) had been consulted by the Department of Labour (DOL); regular meetings had been held by the IDTT and the PSC; the IDTT had made recommendations to the Committee after it was constituted; ex-mineworkers had started to receive payments from the Department of Health (DOH) and DOL; contact with the Employment Bureau of Africa (TEBA) had been made; the former Minister of Labour had addressed the ex-mineworkers and announced the work of the IDTT through the media; those who had legitimate claims were asked to come forward and bring the right documentation so that the Commission for the Compensation of Occupational Diseases (CCOD) claims could be validated; and the Minister also engaged with TEBA to provide the IDTT with outstanding information.

In terms of the DOL (UIF): a total of 457 payments to the value of R2 million had been paid to ex-mineworkers and an additional payment of R500 000 was made to claimants since the last presentation to Parliament.

The challenges faced by the DOL included: information with regard to the period of service in the mines was not available; information about the last salary of the claimants was not available; and some of the applicants were not in possession of a bank account. To solve these problems: additional information was needed to accelerate payments; the DOL supplied TEBA with the request for additional information on 83 cases to facilitate payments; and phase two had started and new applications and new lists were taken and processed.

Ms Thembisa Khaka, Deputy Commissioner, DOH, Commission for the Compensation of Occupational Diseases (CCOD) and (UIF), gave the progress report from the DOH: 200 applications were received; only six payments had been made since the appearance of the IDTT at Parliament; 111 were currently being processed; 65 queries had been raised on the applications; and 18 applications were without reference numbers and it was difficult to process them.

The challenges faced by the DOH included: there were more than one claimant per claim; lack of adequate information to process claims; only R2 million was disbursed out of R20 million which was equivalent to only 10 percent of the available amount to be claimed; the CCOD was experiencing some difficulty in obtaining legitimate claimants through the names on the list given; the witnesses were not the family members as agreed; outstanding claimants’ banking details; affidavits confirming the relationship of the claimant to the miner were prepared by tribal authorities of other districts; the ratio of fraudulent claims to authentic claims were increasing on a daily basis, which could be an indication that some of these miners never existed so the chance of the relatives coming forward was minimal; and the above statistics confirmed that there were fewer claims received on a quarterly basis. In terms of proposed solutions: the leadership of ex-mineworkers would help in providing outstanding information; the second phase of taking applications had been initiated; advocacy campaigns would be conducted through the media; and the DOH may have to close the project at the end of the financial year, 31 March 2010, and use the unclaimed money for development in the Eastern Cape (EC).

Mr Soruwe said that Rand Mutual Assurance (RMA) had received a list of 18 569 claimants from ex-mineworkers and that all the 18 569 cased had been checked against the records of the RMA. Only 20 cases out of 18 569 had been registered with RMA and had subsequently been finalised. The RMA proposed that there was nothing more it could do and regarded the process as closed. The overall challenges facing the project included: finance – there was no budget that had been allocated to the activities of the IDTT. The DOL was paying for the activities of the IDTT and human resources – there was a lack of full time staff allocated to the IDTT. Staff had to do their normal day-to-day activities over and above the IDTT activities.

The Chairperson first asked the representatives if they wanted to comment before the Members would engage the Departments.

Mr Nyamfu, Ex- Natal Coal Mineworkers Union, said that the report was not satisfactory and that ex-mineworkers from the Ciskei were not satisfied because they had not been paid, but their colleagues from the Transkei were paid. This was very painful for the Ciskei workers. They were hoping that by December 2010 they would receive some money and they were prepared to take further action to remedy their situation.

Mr Tholi said that the report looked good and they were aware of it, but where it became confusing was regarding the list handed to RMA. RMA did not receive the actual list from the ex-mineworkers. RMA got the list from DOH. The issue was supposed to be addressed by the ex-mineworkers and RMA.

Mr Dayi, Ex-mineworkers Union, thanked the Commission for doing a good job, but wished that the payment process could be sped up. The numbers of claimants were increasing but the problem of the monies reimbursed was not being addressed. The IDTT should look into this matter and correct the situation so that they could move forward.

Mr Madoda Sambatha, Parliamentary Pillar Head, National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) wanted to engage with the DOH on its campaign of advocacy with the media. He proposed that the content of what went to media should go through the Committee first. Quite often the plight of ex-mineworkers had been politicised by politicians looking for votes. The message must be clear so that it would not be hijacked for political expediency. The other issue was the possible closure of the project on 31 March 2010 (slide 13). He wanted to know who had the power to do that. Everything had to be done to ensure that no other claimants were outstanding. Everything that was rightfully claimed had to be processed and paid before closure of the project. It was problematic to disburse the balance of the money for development in the EC. As a union they would have preferred that, if all claims were settled and some money was left over, the money should go to a bursary fund for the children of ex-mineworkers, because the Government had a fund for that. The money remaining should be used for educational purposes.

Mr Soruwe wanted to comment on the issues raised. As a task team they sat down and made procedures that should be followed when dealing with claims from ex-mineworkers. The reason why the people from other groups had not been paid was because the Task Team did not receive their applications. There were two meetings held: one in the EC and one in Pretoria.  The Task Team requested the group, through Mr Nyamfu, to give the Task Team the list that had the names of people who wanted to claim from the UIF or CCOD. As soon as those lists were received the Task Team would check on the system if those concerned had claimed or not. Those who claimed must then make applications.  With regards to RMA, the list came from DOH, but the actual list was originally from the ex-mineworkers. With regards to money to be used for development, it was a recommendation from Parliament that if claimants could not be found, money should go to development and improve the areas where the ex-mineworkers were located.

Mr E Nyekembe (ANC) said that the IDTT forgot to tell the Committee in previous meetings that it was Parliament’s decision to disburse the balance of the money for development in the EC. What Mr Sambatha said earlier was correct. The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DORDLR) had programmes that would deal with the issue of development in the EC. The money that was destined for ex-mineworkers could not just be used for the development. He partially agreed with the proposal that Mr Sambatha raised regarding the balance of the money being used for educational purposes. The money must not be used for those that were just retrenched but only be used for those ex-mineworkers who could not claim.

Mr I Ollis (DA) said that there were legal ramifications regarding this issue. He asked why there was so much money left over.

Ms L Makhubela-Mashele (ANC) said that she wanted to make a comment regarding the money left over. It was the IDTT that came with suggestions that co-operatives would be opened for development. When the Committee had a meeting in the EC it was not the Committee that came up with suggestions on how the money must be spent. The IDTT came up with some suggestions.

The Chairperson said that it was very clear that the recommendations that the fund must be closed were not accepted. The Committee wanted to be on the same page as the IDTT. The Committee needed to find ways of overcoming the challenges faced by the UIF and departments involved. The Committee was committed to solving the problems of the ex-mineworkers.

Mr Ollis said that he was quite concerned about the report. He was concerned that out of the more than 18 569 claims, only 457 payments were made and that only R2 million was paid out of a total of R20 million. Those statistics said one of two things: either the 18 112 claimants had lied to get money or that the departments concerned could not find the details, so that the rest of those people who could not claim could claim. That left the Committee with a problem: he asked who those 18 202 claimants were. The other issue was regarding the lack of full time staff to run the project. The DOL had a budget of approximately R1.8 million and an additional allocation was just voted for, and between R6 million and R7 million was allocated for administration. The Department of Mineral Resources and the DOH also had adjustments made to their budgets. He proposed that one or two full time staff members be allocated to work full time on the project until the end of the financial year. People should not do this in their spare time. He asked why files were not closed if it was discovered they were not for the right claimant. He agreed that there would be some that were not valid, but if that was the case a letter should be written in Xhosa and English or in both, with a copy of the letter to the representatives present and if one had the contact details the letter should be sent to the relevant person and the file closed. Otherwise this issue would just drag on and on. The Department could then come back to the Committee and give an updated report. There were legal controls regarding what should be done with the money. He was quite concerned when Mr Soruwe stated that very little progress was made.

Mr Nyekembe said that the IDTT was put in place by Parliament for a purpose. The purpose was to look at those who did not claim UIF and those who were injured in the mines. Not everybody who left the mines in the late 1980s had a reference number and a bank account number. Also, the mine number was not kept or remembered by the miners. That was why things were not going smoothly. The departments went to the Minister to interact with TEBA in order to get the details. There were many things to still look at before closure of the project. There was nothing wrong with being pro-active in order to say that all efforts had been made to ensure that the right people received their money. With regards to the CCOD and the affidavits, the departments needed to explain upfront exactly what documents were required from the claimants. Things needed to be improved in this regard. With regards to the Acting Director-General (DG), it was sad that he was not present at the meeting. He had to liaise with other DGs so that costs could be shared between the departments. The DOH had to also take care of the travelling costs of the ex-mineworkers. Lastly, the issue of pensions from the provident fund was not mentioned in the report. This was raised in the last meeting.

Ms Makhubela-Mashele wanted to comment on the RMA issue. According to the presentation only 20 cases were registered with the RMA and been finalised out of a total of 18 569 cases. She heard there was a dispute because RMA wants to close the process. There was confusion because if there were people who did not register their claim, the balance of the cases was fraudulent. There was a weakness in the IDTT. She said that when speaking of the IDTT she included the representatives of the ex-mineworkers. She asked the Commissioner to clarify the process with the RMA. The second issue was regarding the DOH and the fact that the ratio of fraudulent claims were increasing on a daily basis. She asked the Department for more clarity on this issue.

Ms Lindiwe Ndelu, Director, DOH, said that she wanted to give the time frame for the whole project and maybe a comprehensive report would have to be written to the Committee. The DOH started with the agreement in 2003. From that time the claims amounted to 18 569. The process ended in 2005. There were three mop-ups during that time and in 2005 it was re-started because the representatives of the ex-mineworkers felt that some miners had not claimed. Out of the 18 569 claims before the DOH began, there were already 11000 ex-mineworkers who were paid. The current figures that they were talking about (200 applications) were from the remaining 6 000 that were left from August 2010 to September 2010. In 2009 all the names of the ex-mineworkers were gazetted to close the project in October 2009. But then the DOH carried on its work through the IDTT and complaints of ex-mineworkers. The DOH was only responsible for occupational lung diseases and was not responsible for all the other diseases and injuries. The DOH also had meetings with the tribal leaders and was using their affidavits. However, there were fraudulent documents, and the ex-mineworkers stated themselves they had to pay for the affidavits. There seems to have being some confusion. She wanted to clear the matter so that TEBA would have the records of those who worked in the gold mines.

Ms Makhubela-Mashele wanted to clarify the issue she raised on the fraudulent claims that were increasing on a daily basis. The Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Health, Eastern Cape, had briefed the Committee in the past about all these issues.  

Mr Dayi said the 18 569 cases came from the CCOD. The people who made claims made claims on those who had already passed away. The ex-mineworkers waited for RMA to close the cases of the 18 569. He wanted RMA to come back to the ex-mineworkers and start to work with them.

Mr Nyamfu said that issues pertaining to money should be engaged and deliberated thoroughly. All the role players must sit down and agree on the terms of payment. He wanted to know how he would be paid. In the EC people were suffering and needed to be paid. From the period one lost one’s job, how would one be paid?

Mr E Nyekembe (ANC) said that he thought the IDTT must go back and clarify the payments. The process was not open to people who left the mines because of retrenchment or the mines being closed; one would then be given a blue card so that one could claim UIF. The responsibility of the UIF was for people to produce documents saying they were either dismissed or retrenched. He was not saying that what happened in the gold mines never happened in the coal mines. The issue of the mines was as a result of tribal violence. People could not claim their UIF because they had run away due to the violence and as a result could not be paid by RMA and by the CCOD. Other miners were not given a second opportunity to claim.

Mr Sambatha said currently people organizing in the mines were not from the ex-mineworkers. They were saying there death benefits would be paid to them. The claim was that NUM did not want to give them their death benefits. The mineworkers did not understand this concept. If one did not manage the lists, some people would appear on the list that did not qualify.  

Mr Tholi said that people must stop referring to the leadership of ex-mineworkers. RMA was not represented here today and it seemed as if it was closed. The deliberations made the ex-mineworkers ungovernable. He wanted to know what their actual role was in this regard.

Mr Soruwe said that he wanted to clarify something. The very report that was tabled was their report. RMA was providing the report to the IDTT and there were no objections to the report. In terms of the 18 569 cases, that was what was done.

Mr Sambatha said the issue of closure of the project was not correct until all verification was done. The Committee must be happy that everything possible was done to ensure that all the claimants were paid.

Mr Dayi said the ex-mineworkers wanted TEBA present because they had a problem with TEBA. TEBA used to charge the mineworkers R45 and he wanted to know where the money went. He asked the Committee if it could ask TEBA to account.

Mr Tholi supported the view that TEBA must come and account. In 1990, when the ex-mineworkers came back to the mines, they returned empty handed as a result of the violence. The ex-mineworkers did not have the information as to what they should do. The ex-mineworkers used to go to the Magistrate’s court to affirm that they were going to the mines for nine to twelve months and that was why they could not get their documents. TEBA had said that that they were compensated.

Ms Makhubela-Mashele said that the ex-mineworkers must clarify if they were working with the IDTT or not. The ex-mineworkers seemed to make statements and claims against the IDTT.

Mr Nyekembe said that there were three ways of claiming: through the UIF, DOH and RMA. In his opinion, the 18 569 cases were on a list put together with ex-mineworkers and then the list was ratified by all departments.

Mr Tholi said that the IDTT did not have enough capacity and that was why the process of payment was so slow. Also, he wanted to know exactly what the R45 that was paid to TEBA was for.

The Chairperson said she does not want to go into the details about the abuse by the police but a relevant committee would address that issue. This Committee was to make sure that people were reimbursed in terms of their claims.  Those who met the criteria should have received their money. She agreed with her colleagues that there should be clarity with regards to the criteria. The meeting between the IDTT appeared not to be a desired outcome. It was supposed to be a meeting between the IDTT and members composed of the different departments and the representatives of ex-mineworkers and the Members of Parliament. She said that there had been agreement to disagree on some issues. Those were the issues she thought they would be deliberating on. She criticised the workers as well, because when the Committee was selected the IDTT had already been established. Mr Tholi and Mr Dayi were already part of the IDTT.  She urged the members of the IDTT and the representatives of the ex-mineworkers to go back to the drawing board. All the issues with which they were not happy needed to be clarified as soon as possible. She believed that the IDTT and the representatives could cooperate with each other. She also asked Mr Soruwe to look at the issue that left them divided.

The Committee agreed that the IDTT should continue to do their job. It was agreed that all the departments involved had to pay something towards this programme. The Acting Director General should work with the other DGs to ensure that funds were made available for the ex-mineworkers. The relevant Ministers should also be informed as to what was happening.

The Chairperson urged the members of the IDTT to communicate better with the other role players. The issue of the R45 must also be resolved. She could see that some progress was made but said that the IDTT must be judged by the criteria it used not by the numbers. She said that if the IDTT had any problems it should not hesitate to contact the Committee; Members would be more than willing to help.

The meeting was adjourned.


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