The Miner’s Phthisis Act was the origin of the establishment of the MBOD and CCOD. It was set up to manage the claims of workers and ex-workers on the mines. There were a number of challenges it was faced with. The entity had undergone a change of management in 2012 and found itself facing two major problems. The first was the annual reports and financial reports which had not been submitted to Parliament since 2000. Moreover, there was insufficient information relating to source documents for the period from 2000 to 2003. Efforts were underway to produce a consolidated report by the end of this year. The second was the tracing of ex-workers who had made a claim, but had moved addresses and were therefore unable to receive the settlement. Methods used to assist with tracing were mapping studies, the services of community health workers, the cooperation between traditional healers, and outreach programmes. There were plans afoot to include Parliament in the outreach programmes. Another problem cited was the appointment of key strategic human resources, especially concerning the appointment of the Director of the MBOD, which was a difficult post to fill due to governance matters relating to remuneration.
The Chairperson suggested that a recommendation in that regard be made to the Department of Health (DOH).
Members were concerned that proposed amendments to the Act (1973) had not been received by the Committee. The Act was a very old piece of legislation, and the amendments were so many that it had to be rewritten. It was noted that there was a high incidence of fatalities in South Africa than in other countries such as Australia. Also of note was the high incidence of tuberculosis (TB) not only in South Africa as compared to neighbouring countries but also in the Eastern Cape as compared to other provinces.
Members raised the concern about the small number of mines, (249 out of 1300) being levied for occupational health. There were plans afoot to have all the mines controlled and thus have all mines levied. Members offered their assistance if needed on how those levies could be collected, and to increase the number of mines paying the levy. On the question of designated and equipped medical facilities for occupational health, there were 186 such facilities, mostly hospitals, and these were in all provinces. On the issue of beneficiaries who had lost both parents, or who had more than one wife, they were being requested to make an affidavit in order to settle those kinds of claims.
Briefing by Medical Bureau for Occupational Diseases (MBOD) and Compensation Commissioner for Occupational Diseases (CCOD)
The Chairperson welcomed Committee Members, staff, the delegation, and visitors. She confirmed that everyone had received a hard copy of the presentation.
Dr Anban Pillay, Deputy Director General for Regulation and Compliance in the Department of Health, made the opening remarks to the presentation, and thanked the Committee for this opportunity. He said the MBOD and CCOD was a unit and had a trading account. He handed over to Ms Shireen Pardesi, Chief of Staff at the Department of Health who made the presentation.
Ms Pardesi gave an overview of the MBOD and CCOD and said their origin stemmed from the Miners’ Phthisis Act of 1912. Its functions, amongst others, included management of claims from workers and ex-workers. The activities of both the MBOD and CCOD had now merged into one entity and are located in one building. The relative legislation for the entity is the Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act (1973). There are a number of policy initiatives. One of these is the amendments to the Act. The entity had not submitted annual reports since 2000. Its Risk Committee was non-functional since 1998.
A set of goals had been formulated to make changes and improvements to its functioning. She went on to say that it would link with Parliament to broaden its outreach and awareness programme. On the issue of fatalities it was noteworthy that there was a lower incidence in other countries such as Australia. In a graph she depicted tuberculosis (TB) in the provinces as the highest disease type, with the highest number of cases being in the Eastern Cape. In another graph TB is shown as the highest disease type for South Africa when compared to other neighbouring countries. The research initiatives underway included “risks in mines and works”. In relation to human resources, training and capacity building was featured as a need. Policy and legislative changes would be effected as part of the Annual Performance Plan for 2014/15. The core functions of occupational health services are preventive, curative, and, rehabilitation and compensation services.
Ms Pardesi mentioned the budget for Occupational Health which stood at over R52 million for the 2013/14 year. The staff establishment as at July 2014 revealed a large number of vacant posts. Of a total of 127 posts for professional and support staff, there are 32 vacancies. The Compensation Fund’s value stood at R2.6 billion for the 2013/14 year.
Mr I Mosala (ANC) wanted to know whether the State carried the entire burden of cost for occupational health, and if so, is there recourse to obtain contributions by the mining sector.
Ms Pardesi replied that the levy depended on the metal being mined. She said yes the State has the whole burden.
With regard to the two separate pieces of legislation which falls respectively under Health, and Labour, Mr Mosala asked why these were not merged.
Ms Pardesi replied that in practice, if a miner turned up at the wrong place for treatment it was inhumane to send away a sick person to some other institution. Therefore compensation must belong to one sector.
Dr P Maesela (ANC) asked why only half of mines were controlled mines.
Ms M Scheepers (ANC) said that of so many mines, only 249 were controlled. Why is that so and what informs this figure.
Ms Pardesi replied that the number of controlled mines is presently 249. There are a total of 1300, but this is an approximate number since there are mines closing, then re-opening under a different name. Their vision was to have all the mines controlled. It was the Risk Committee’s task to get more mines controlled.
Dr Muzimkhulu Zungu, Acting Director for MBOD, added that the Risk Committee had not been functioning since 1998. It started functioning again since 2012, and had two meetings in the past six months.
Dr Maesela said it appears there is a huge lack of skills, and in that regard, is there a plan to address it, as it would hamper the entity’s activities if it were to continue operating like this. On the staff vacancy issue, the Chairperson said there appears to be no indication when these posts will be filled.
Ms Pardesi replied that to address the filling of vacant posts an organogram was being developed and would be made available to the Committee.
Ms C Ncube-Ndaba (ANC) asked how the communities being served were being informed about its services. The Chairperson said that it is a fact that many beneficiaries are illiterate making them vulnerable to confusion. She wanted to know whether there is a programme dedicated to address beneficiaries’ concerns.
Ms Pardesi replied that it was a passion of theirs to inform their community. This was achieved this by going to the provinces, attending community events, handing out pamphlets, etc. She said that there were so-called unions operating and exploiting mainly widows, by giving out misinformation. There will be a programme of outreach covering all provinces from 9 September to 10 October.
Ms Ncube-Ndaba asked why the Committee had not been informed of the amendments to the Act.
Dr H Volmink (DA) asked with regard to harmonising the legislation under Health and under Labour, what the recommendations are from the entity. Should it rest within the DOH?
Ms Pardesi replied that it was a process. The current legislation was very old (1973) and had to be re-written. This part of the process will be completed and forwarded to the Committee within the next two to three weeks.
Ms Ncube-Ndaba asked why there were only 150 (out of 10 000) beneficiaries being paid pensions. If there was such a backlog, what corrective measures have been put in place?
Ms Pardesi replied that if a doctor finds that the worker does not have a disease as defined by the Act such a worker will not qualify for a pension.
Ms Ncube-Ndaba asked whether the mines which do not comply and therefore do not contribute their levy – how and when these will comply. How are those mines able to operate if their levies are not paid?
Dr Sam Malautsi, Deputy Commissioner CCOD said new mines were not aware of a payment of a levy.
Dr H Volmink (DA) thanked the delegation for their work. He said the presentation shows figures for staff vacancies. He wanted to know based on this, what the turnover is for filling of posts and vacancy of posts.
Ms Pardesi gave the example of a doctor being appointed, then resigned 2 months later, only to be followed up by another appointment who similarly resigned within a few months. This is as a result of a governance issue in regard to remuneration.
Dr Zungu said the Certification Committee is chaired by the Director of MBOD, and this post must be filled by a medical doctor. If he or she resigns in such a short time it results in a huge backlog. At present this backlog is about 8000 files.
Mr A Mahlalela (ANC) said he wanted to understand whether MBOD and CCOD was an entity, programme or sub-programme. Is it part of the DOH. On the other hand it has its own vision and mission.
Mr Pillay said the best description wass “entity”.
Mr Mahlalela wanted to know what the challenges are, and reasons for, the financial statements not being submitted.
Mr Ian van der Merwe, Chief Financial Officer at the DOH, said there were problems with obtaining source documents and resulting in disclaimers. The plan is to have the financial reports produced together with the annual reports.
Mr Mahlalela noted that 2000 was the last time an annual report was submitted. Furthermore, he asked, what informs this state of affairs.
Ms Pardesi said the entity was in a process of building itself up, and had come a long way. The Committee would receive one by the end of December. The entity asked for a pardon for this lack. A consolidated report would be submitted for the years 2000 to 2012. However, for the year 2000 to 2003 there was insufficient information. But despite this the consolidated annual report will be submitted by the end of this year.
Dr Zungu said that in 2012 a new management had been appointed, and confirmed that by the end of the year the consolidated report would be available.
The Chairperson said she would like to know many private practitioners were consulting for this purpose, and how many public institutions were designated and equipped for this kind of task.
Ms Pardesi said there were service providers in every province and neighbouring countries. There are 186, and most are hospitals, not private practitioners. It was planned to provide a list of these facilities to Members so as to increase knowledge of service providers.
The Chairperson asked if it was not normal practice that when someone applied for work, that a medical form must be submitted. And if there is TB present is this a serious matter. What happened in this case?
Dr Zungu said this was part of the functions of the Department of Mineral Resources.
The Chairperson asked how beneficiaries were being traced beyond our borders.
Ms Pardesi said it was true that there were an overwhelming number of illiterate workers, and organisations are springing up everywhere to exploit the situation. Three thousand nine hundred and ninety-five workers could not be found because they had moved and addresses had changed. The database of information for workers and ex-workers should be taken back from TEBA because the State is the rightful owner of the information. With support from Members these addresses would be made available to make it part of Members’ outreach programmes.
Dr Zungu said together with neighbouring countries, mapping studies were being undertaken so ex-workers could be found, as well as tracing facilities that were available in their vicinity.
The Chairperson asked if both parents of a beneficiary had passed on, who would be the beneficiary. Also in the case of polygamous marriages, how was the rightful beneficiary determined.
Ms Pardesi said it was a struggle if all the beneficiaries were not registered.
Mr Malautsi said such beneficiaries were asked to go to the police and make an affidavit, which would help in settling the claim.
The Chairperson said it was clear that the MBOD and CCOD was hard at work on the challenges and congratulated the Members of the delegation for this.
She said on the issue of key strategic posts, as it relates to remuneration, whether the entity could make a recommendation to DOH to solve the matter.
Dr Volmink said that in terms of backdated compensation given to workers how far back does it go, and what percentage of people have passed away before they received compensation.
Ms Pardesi said in the Eastern Cape facilities are booked up to December. But the number of doctors has now been increased from 1 to 4 so that there was no appointment system, rather people may come and be served straight away.
Ms Ncube-Ndaba said the community health care workers could be used in tracing ex-workers.
Ms Pardesi said in their tracing processes the community health care workers’ services had been used to assist. Other avenues have also been used, such as traditional leaders. But it was a great challenge if there were no records left by the ex-worker.
Ms Ncube-Ndaba said the issue of the Director must be taken as serious and very urgent.
Dr Maesela said it was important to understand that the industry of health was not like any other. It cannot be reversed. There was a lot of money that could be collected and when this money is in hand the entity would be in a better position to pay people before they die. The same money could also be used to appoint actuaries and doctors. He said that this Committee was available to assist if needed.
The Chairperson said she was very enthusiastic about being part of the outreach programme. On the issue of TEBA she said the Committee would do its part in bringing pressure to bear so that the records could be returned. She thanked the delegation in making the Committee aware of its work and there may be an opportunity for the Committee to visit their offices in the future.
Adoption of previous minutes
The minutes of the meeting of 20 August 2014 were adopted with amendments. There were spelling errors to “to”, “ombudsman” and “for”.
Dr W James (DA) moved for the adoption of the minutes. The motion was seconded by Mr I Mosala (ANC).
The meeting was adjourned.
- PC Health: Compensation Commissioner for Occupational Disease on their APP & Budget 1
- PC Health: Briefing by the Compensation Commissioner for Occupational Disease on their APP & Budget; Adoption of Minutes p2
- PC Health: Briefing by the Compensation Commissioner for Occupational Disease on their APP & Budget; Adoption of Minutes p1
- PC Health: Compensation Commissioner for Occupational Disease on their APP & Budget 2