ATC100510: Report Oversight Visit to Eastern Cape (East London) 9th & 10th May 2010

Labour

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Labour on its Oversight Visit to the Eastern Cape (East London), 9th -10th May 2010

 

The Portfolio Committee on Labour having undertaken an oversight visit to East London, report as follows:

 

 

1.         Introduction

 

The Portfolio Committee on Labour held a meeting with ex mine workers after complaints received that ex-mine workers and their beneficiaries did not receive their UIF monies from the Department of Labour.

 

2.         Background
 

Subsequent to the events that unfolded, where a group of ex-mineworkers and the relatives of other  ex-mineworkers, others frail and sick in wet and cold weather conditions camped outside Parliament premises in Cape Town with a list of demands. A meeting was held between Parliament and the group of ex-mine workers. The Portfolio Committees on Labour and Mineral Resources undertook to meet with all stakeholders in East London,Eastern Cape. 

 

In 2007, Parliament established the Ad-hoc Committee on Matters Relating to Ex-Mineworkers Union with the purpose of considering the issues raised in submissions by the union and to make recommendations to resolve the issues.  One of the recommendations was the establishment of the Interdepartmental Task Team, with the Department of Labour as a lead department, Department of Health, the Department of Minerals and Energy, Office of the Premier in the Eastern Cape and representatives from the ex-mineworkers. Since then, the Interdepartmental Task Team has reported back to Parliament in 2008, on the challenges it faced in locating beneficiaries and in authenticating identifications from the claimants. However, it is the additional challenges which could have caused the group of ex-mineworkers to head out to Parliament. Following the brief session with parliament, it was clear that the union, represented by Mr Nomazele in the 2007 hearings, had split. The second group of ex-mineworkers was left behind in the Eastern Cape.

 

 

3.         Composition of Delegation

 

3.1        Parliamentary Delegation
 

The multi- party delegation from the Portfolio Committee on Labour and Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources comprised Ms L Yengeni MP Chairperson- Labour (ANC), Mr E Nyekemba MP (ANC), Ms S Makubele-Mashele MP (ANC), Mr FN Gona MP Chairperson- Mineral Resources (ANC), Ms N Ngele MP (ANC), and Mr I Ollis MP (DA).

 

 

 

3.2       The Department of Labour representation
 

The Department of Labour was represented by Mr Jimmy Manyi, Director General, Ms Penny Ntuli, Director in the office of DG, Mr Thozama Ngonyama, Manager: WC, Mr Thabo Madikiza, Manager: Eastern Cape, BoasSeruwe, Provincial Commissioner, UIF, Mr S, Yenana, Practitioner: Eastern Cape

 

3.3       The Eastern Cape Premiers Office representation

 

The Premiers Office was represented by Mr Gladstone Ntondini, Manager in the Office of the Premier and Mr Mzwandile Mampunye Core Staff in the Office of the Premier.

 

3.4       Presidency representation

 

The Presidency was represented by Ms Jane Makanya, Director: Special Projects in the Presidency.

 

4.      The Briefing Session with the Interdepartmental Task Team 9th May 2010

 

The Portfolio Committees met with the Interdepartmental Task Team before the scheduled meeting with the ex-mineworkers later on that same day.

 

The purpose of the meeting was to first establish the nature of relations amongst the Task Team members. Secondly, to assess the progress on the work already performed by the Task Team and thirdly, to establish the reasons for the group of ex-mineworkers to go to Cape Town.

 

Following a brief report on the reasons leading to the establishment of the Task Team, Mr Seruwe outlined the progress made thus far with regards to the payment of UIF beneficiaries. According to him, the UIF had initially received 18 500 list of applicants for beneficiaries from Eastern Cape which was later reduced to 4 163 following the verification and authentification process. Out of this list, a total of 2 100 beneficiaries had credits on the UIF database, of which 101 were paid their monies and exhausted their UIF credits. 

 

According to the report from Mr Seruwe, the UIF reviewed 18 cases of ex-mineworkers who had initially applied, but were rejected by the Fund. A total of R93 000 was paid as a result. Out of 21 000 in the list with credits, but never applied to the Fund, 200 were paid an amount of R930 000 to date. In addition to the UIF payments, the Department of Health’s Commission for Compensation of Occupational Diseases (CCOD) has paid a total of R2 million to 751 beneficiaries.

 

When questioned about the slow progress in payment of beneficiaries, the chairperson of the task team argued that there were a number of challenges that they were faced with such as: the cumbersome process of verifying the documents of which the majority of claimants did not have proper identity documents.

 

In clarifying some of the misperceptions to the committee, the task team stated that there were no funds transferred to the Office of the Premier of the Eastern Cape, but agreed that a total R54 million was transferred by the Chamber of Mines to the Department of Health’s CCOD. Whereas there still exist a lump sum with various Departments and various other institutions, the majority of the beneficiaries are non-South Africans originating form the neighbouring countries.

 

From the report of the Task team, the committee established the causes for the group of ex-mineworkers to camp outside Parliament as:

 

  • The divisions amongst the ex-mineworkers that have caused the group to split into two groups

·         The perception that one group of ex-mineworkers was favoured over the other by the Task Team

·         There are no proper communication channels between the Task Team and the ex-mineworkers, due to one group’s non-representation in the Task Team

 

Based on the hostilities amongst the ex-mineworkers, it has been difficult for the Task Team to communicate with both these groups. According to Mr Ntondini (project-coordinator in the Province), there have been several attempts to reconcile the two groups to resolve their differences. One such attempt was made through the Interdepartmental Task Team’s decision in Pretoria in 2009, wherein the two groups were to meet in the Eastern Cape, with MrNtondini as the mediator and coordinator of the meeting. The purpose was for the two groups to elect their respective representatives to task team and to further resolve their differences in order to merge into one organisation. Such a meeting did take place, however the task team had not received the report back from the two groups. In spite of the rift amongst the parties, all stakeholders, including both ex-mineworkers union groups are represented in the provincial steering committee.

 

4. Session with a group of ex-mine workers – 9th May 2010

 

On the 9th May, the committee met with first group of ex-mineworkers, the Department of Labour and the Interdepartmental Task Team. The purpose of the meeting was to establish the reasons for the group to split and whether it is possible that these two groups could reconcile in order to work together. Representing this group was:

 

  • Mr Tholi, President
  • Mr M J Mavana, Chairperson
  • Mr Gonongo,  Vice Chairperson
  • Nomaxabiso Mzotsho, Secretary
  • Ms NV Siphoso, Treasurer

 

The ex-mineworkers reported that they are currently represented in both the provincial steering committee and the national Interdepartmental Task Team. At national level, the group is represented by Mr Tolbert who resides inGauteng province. The ex-mineworkers recognise government’s efforts to trace beneficiaries and also acknowledged the Task Team’s progress in disbursing the funds to the claimants. They also acknowledged the task team’s efforts to unite the two groups in the meeting held in Pretoria. The ex-mineworkers further concurred with the earlier reports that Mr Ntondini, under the task team’s directive, coordinated the meeting in order for the two groups to nominate representatives and to reconcile. Although such a meeting took place in Umtata at Botha Sigcawu it was however was unsuccessful.  

 

In establishing the reasons for the conflict amongst these two groups, Mr Gonongo relayed the source of their conflict as being the passing away of their former President, Mr Nomazele who had been perceived as redundant by the other group for not being able to speedily resolve the ex-mineworkers concerns. With this perception already instilled, this group of disgruntled ex-mineworkers approached Mr Holomisa, the leader of the United Democratic Movement (UDM) to assist them in sensitising government to resolve their issues. Following this act by other group, the rift widened as perceptions of political affiliations with certain political parties spread animosities. Out this discussion, it was quite certain that there are many accusations, either founded based on rumours and unfounded perceptions from both the groups. These include:

 

·               That the group that went to Cape Town did so being fully informed of the progress thus far on the payments of beneficiaries since they are  continuously being informed by the other members of the ex-mineworkers

·               That the group that went to Cape Town had been politically influenced in order to disrupt parliament  and send negative perceptions about government

·               That certain individuals from that  group were misrepresenting government by charging people for services freely provided by government

 

Responding to these allegations, the Portfolio Committees reiterated that such allegations were serious and therefore required legal route, where formal procedure should be followed. As for the mandate of the committees, the two groups had to find ways to resolve their differences in order to benefit the ex-mineworkers and their families. In a heated debate, the members of the ex-mineworkers argued their dissatisfaction over parliament’s agreement to meet with the Cape Town group, which was perceived as prejudicing them. Hence, member’s suggested that the two groups should work together was perceived as a predetermined decision in order to consume the other group in favour of the Cape Town group. It is at this point that the committee reassured the ex-mineworkers that Parliament had not reached any decision concerning the fate of the union. However continued to propose that the two groups should choose either one of the following options:

 

·               Continue with the status quo, be separate organisations but resolve to work together through the Interdepartmental Task Team and the Provincial Steering Committee, or

·               Resolve differences and merge the two organisations into one Ex-mineworkers Union

 

However the sentiments uttered by the ex-mineworkers revealed that there could be no possibility for the second proposal that is to merge the two groups.

 

5. The Session with both the two ex-mine workers union – 10th May

 

Present at the meeting were:

 

·         The Ex-mineworkers union led by Mr Ketile

·         The Ex-mineworkers union led by Mr Tholi

·         The Natal coal-gold ex-mineworkers led by Mr Nyamfu

 

The purpose of the session with both the groups together was:

 

·         For the two groups to elect their preferred candidates to represent each group in the Interdepartmental Task Team and the Steering Committee

·         To establish the reason for the other group of ex-mineworkers to go to Parliament, in Cape Town

·         To get both parties to report back on the meeting held at Umtata, in Botha Sigcawu.

 

When questioned about the reasons that drove the ex-mine workers group to Cape Town, Mr Dayi argued that it was due to the following reasons:

 

·         The group had not been receiving feedback on progress regarding issues concerning the claimants. They had received information that the members of the other group of ex-mineworkers had already received payments from the UIF, whereas the same was not for their members

·         They had not been given reasons why the Task Team had moved their operations to Pretoria away from Cape Town

·         They were informed by Mr Rose Sonto, who is the Member of Parliament and the former chairperson of the Ad hoc committee on ex-mineworkers, that they would get all their monies in Parliament in Cape Town.

 

On the issue of the meeting arranged for the two groups to resolve their differences at Umtata, the ex-mineworkers led by Mr Ketile reported that that the meeting did take place, although nothing had been resolved by the affected parties due a number of reasons. Some of the reasons were:

 

·         Whereas the parties had arranged to meet and resolve their differences, Mr Ntondini’s absence from the meeting as coordinator was a major setback for both parties

 

·          On arrival at the venue (Botha Sigcawu), Mr Tholi had not brought along the people who had been central in the divisions within the ex-mineworkers union, that is Mr Gonongo and Ms Mzotsho.

 

It also transpired during the deliberations that the Interdepartmental Task Team had not done enough to mediate the two teams, also that the team had not completely executed its mandate as per the terms of reference resolved in Parliament in 2007. During the discussions, there were contradictory views on whether the two groups should merge or not. Attempts by the Members of the committee to get the two groups to merge failed as both the groups accused each other of attempts to subdue the other. The committee therefore proposed that the two groups should rather, as a way forward, opt to select representatives for the Task Team and to open channels of communications. 

 

Way forward  

 

As a way forward, both groups had to decide on their representatives to the Interdepartmental Task Team and the Provincial Steering Committee. All ex-mineworkers agreed not to make any changes on the provincial representatives list. For the Interdepartmental Task Team, they recommended the following:

 

  • Mr. Nyamfu will continue to represent the Natal Coal/Gold ex-mineworkers
  • Mr. Tolbert to continue representing the ex-mineworkers led by Mr. Tholi
  • Mr. Dayi to represent the ex-mineworkers led by Mr. Ketile 

 

In addition to these suggestions, the Director-General of the Department of Labour, Mr Jimmy Manyi suggested the following:

 

  • That the Interdepartmental Task team should meet on the 31st of May in Pretoria
  • That labour centres should be used as a point of information dissemination and various service delivery needs, through the use of mobile units to reach the rural areas.
  • In order to ensure that all people receive information on progress on benefit payments and other related information, the Department of Labour will use various communication channels such as radio.

 

The proposal was received well by Members of the committee, who appreciated the offer by the Department to bring free services closer to the people. However, the proposal was rejected by a minority of the ex-miners who perceived the move as taking over work already performed by the unions. Furthermore, these members voiced out their dissatisfaction with the instances where the mobile units had been used to criticize the ex-mineworkers union to the locals. It was proposed that, in instances where such takes place, the members of the union should report such behaviour to the Department of Labour. Mr. Bandwa from Natal coal ex- mine workers requested the Department of Labour to assist by renting office place for the three unions from the three points of operation for the unions, i.e. Umtata, Bizana and Nqamakwe. In response, the department promised to first consider its budget, if such a proposal is possible.

 

6. Recommendations    

 

 Subsequent to lengthy discussions the meeting resolved as follows:

 

  • To have all stakeholders represented in the Interdepartmental Task Team
  • To have Mr Dayi, Tolbert and Nyamfu represent all three groups in the task team.
  • To have the two groups cooperating.
  • To have Mr Ntondini continuing to assist the two groups in resolving their difference through organizing meetings and mediating where required. Such mediation will including assisting the groups in discussing the merger and resolving on how the union should be structured, for example where the offices should be located.
  • To have the Portfolio Committees on Labour and Mineral resources decide on the way forward when in Cape Town.

 

7.         Conclusion

 

In concluding the discussions, Mr Gona, the Chairperson on Mining

emphasised the role of the stakeholders in assisting the poor people who had either been victims in the mines or are relatives to the ex-mineworkers in securing their benefits from various departments and institutions.

Furthermore, he reiterated that the monies that are with these institutions belong to the beneficiaries and not the leaders of the unions or government officials. Therefore, the unions should not be sidetracked in fulfilling their original mandate.

 

Report to be considered

Documents

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