National Departments of Labour and Health Briefings

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Meeting report

AD HOC COMMITTEE ON EX- MINEWORKERS UNION
7 NOVEMBER 2007
NATIONAL DEPARTMENTS OF LABOUR AND HEALTH BRIEFINGS

Chairperson: Mr M Sonto (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Report on Government Interventions in Assisting the Ex Mineworkers of South Africa (Pty) Ltd.
Eastern Cape Ex – miners- R54 Million Project.

Audio recording of meeting

SUMMARY
The Departments of Health and Labour briefed the Committee on their efforts to attend to the concerns of Ex- Mine Workers. The Department of Health informed the Committee of the extent they have disbursed the funds (R54 Million) allocated to them for the Ex - Mine Workers.

MINUTES
Ex Mineworkers Issues:
Department of Health Briefing
Mr Thami Mseleku, Director General, Department of Health briefed the Committee on the Eastern Cape Ex-Miners R54 Project. He explained to the Committee that the Department was facing some challenges with the leadership of the Ex-Mineworkers Union.

The Department’s report shows that over 11200 ex-miners had been traced and paid a total of R30.2 million. Mr Mseleku explained that the payment process was still on going and ex-miners would be paid only once they proved their claims. The balance still outstanding was R20 million.

Discussion
Ms N Matsemela (ANC) asked if the Mine Workers Union represented the whole of South Africa as they claimed to do. .

Mr Mseleku responded that whenever the Union was asked who they represented it would always maintain that it was fully representative of all ex-mineworkers..

Mr B Mkongi (ANC) asked if the Department of Health had a list of the 18 500 people already paid.

Mr Mseleku responded that the Department had the original list and this could be checked. He added that the same list was used in checking the correctness of claims made by dependants of deceased ex-Mine workers.

Mr Mkongi asked why the R54 million was transferred to the National Treasury instead of the Eastern Cape Provincial Government.

Mr Mseleku said that was done because the matter was one of national competence and not provincial. He further explained that there was no constitutional body at the provincial level to handle that matter. Only the Compensation Committee had the mandate to do that.

Mr Mkongi further asked how the Department identified descendants of deceased ex–Mineworkers if they were born out of wedlock.

Mr Mseleku responded that the Department would take into cognisance the African setting and was flexible. He said once a claimant could prove the connection this would be sufficient to effect a payment.

The Chairperson asked the Department how far it felt it had disbursed the funds meant for the ex- mineworkers. He also asked if the Department had stopped disbursement of the remaining funds.

Mr B Mashego from the Department of Health responded that there was no time frame at present for disbursement of the funds. He explained that so long as people came up with genuine claims, the Department wouldl pay them. He added that if over a long period there were no longer claims forthcoming the remaining money would then be returned to the State.

The Chairperson also asked the Department what it would do if it exhausted the amount allocated for compensation and there were still have genuine claims.

Mr Mseleku responded that the Department was hoping that such a situation would not arise, but that if it did, there must have been a miscalculation by the administrators and they would find a way around it.

Mr H Schmidt (DA) asked how they ex mineworkers proved that their illnesses were related to mining.

Mr Mseleku responded that the Department had a way of dealing with occupational diseases. He explained that there was a process through doctors to establish the connection between the mining and the injury before compensation.

Department of Labour (DOL) Briefing
Mr P Mothiba, Senior Executive Manager, Department of Labour, briefed the Committee on the assistance given to the ex-mineworkers by the Department. Mr Mothiba informed the Committee that the Department had been regularly engaging with the ex-mineworkers and a Committee had been set up specifically to look into their interests. He too said that there were some problems with the leadership of the Ex-Mine Workers Union which seemed to prevent them from meeting the workers themselves.

Discussion
Ms Matsemela asked if people from other provinces who were also ex – mineworkers could claim from the fund.

Mr Chris Mafu, Business Development Manager, DOL, responded that most of the claimants were from Eastern Cape but that there were people entitled to claim from the Fund who were from other provinces.

Mr Mkongi asked if the people paid out of the R54 million were the people the money was meant for, or if there were new claims. He also asked if ex-mineworkers from the period 1987 to 1992 could claim from the new government or if their claims were now null and void.

Mr Mafu responded that their claims were not null and void. He explained that most of the cases being handled were old cases. Once a claimant’s case was assessed and found to be genuine, the claimant would be paid.

The Chairperson asked if payment would ever come to an end.

Mr B Seruwe responded that the government department would try to assist always since that was their mandate. He explained that there as a system which detected false claims.

Mr Mkongi asked the Department of Labour what its views were on the Ex-Mine Workers Union.

Mr Mafu noted that the Union leaders made money out of their job.

The Chairperson asked why the Department of Labour tended to support the Union.

One of the members of the delegation from the Department of Labour explained that the laws regulating their operation encouraged the Department to listen to everyone who approached them. The Department would not, however, deal with the leader of the Union, but with the individual member, to avoid a situation where genuine cases might be left unattended.

The meeting was adjourned.




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