The South African government has slashed the number of Malawian ex-miners who are entitled to terminal benefits from 36,000 to 9,000.
South African authorities say the move came about because some of the workers do not qualify for any benefits as they were not members of the Provident Fund.
Meanwhile, the Malawi government has confirmed the development, but was quick to advise that there will be a full press statement when a complete analysis of the information is finalised.
Ex-miners Association of Malawi, John Diki, said despite the fact that 36,000 Malawians worked in South African mines between 1970 and 1989, it is surprising that only 9,000 stand to receive their terminal benefits.
“When the results from South Africa came, I met the Secretary for Labour, Mr. [Patrick] Kabambe and Commissioner for Labour Mr. Nyangulu [who told] me that only 9,000 Malawians qualified to receive their pensions,” said Diki.
He said from the 9,000, other districts such as Blantyre and Balaka have registered zero recipients while Dedza, Thyolo and Mulanje have registered less than four but Ntcheu has more beneficiaries.
Diki said as the association it was very shocked to learn about such development and has urged government not to release the names of the people until all the anomalies are rectified.
However, Kabambe could neither confirm nor deny the claims but said the data in South Africa did not match the statistics collected here.
“At the moment, I cannot confirm on the figure that you are quoting. What I can say is that there were a number of inconsistencies in the names of ex-miners to the effect that the names could not match the data that is in the database in South Africa,” said Kabambe in an email response.
He added: “This is why there is need for reconciliation so that the inconsistencies in the names can be rectified. Therefore, it’s a bit premature for me to give you the actual number of names of people that qualify whose names match.”
Kabambe said for those whose names match, government will be processing the transfer of their money.
He said government anticipates that such people will get their dues within a very short period.
“I cannot give the exact date because there are other players involved. For those that have died, there is a process through the traditional leaders to enable the next of kin to receive the terminal benefits,” Kabambe said.
The Employment Bureau of Africa (Teba) and South African Chamber of Mines’ officials were tasked to compile a Malawi inventory of ex-miners in 2011.
However, since that time, no Malawian has received his benefits.
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