Government says it is in talks with Pretoria to regularise illegal Malawian immigrants in South Africa who most often face detention and deportation for lack of requisite papers to stay in the mineral rich country.
Labour Minister, Henry Mussa, told Parliament on Thursday that he would inform the House on the progress of the talks and the subsequent signing of a memorandum of understanding including possible exchange of workforce once concluded.
“Considering that many Malawians are in South Africa in an irregular situation, we are yet to discuss and sign a memorandum of understanding on labour between two countries,” said Mussa.
The minister was answering a question from Lilongwe Central MP Lobin Lowe who wanted to find out the progress on the payment of pensions for those who worked in South African mines popularly known as Teba.
Mussa ruled out reintroduction of sending people to work in the mines in South Africa, saying unemployment is a problem in many countries including South Africa.
“…we also need the up-and-coming skills to develop our country. While acknowledging that export of surplus labour has benefits, for now, my ministry is developing enabling policies and legislation for labour migration governance,” said Mussa.
On pension for the ex-miners, Mussa said the government sent a total of 48,629 forms to claim money from provident fund administrators out of which 17,807 qualified to receive the benefits after screening and only 8, 641 beneficiaries have completed the Alexander Forbes forms making them eligible to get their benefits any time.
Alexander Forbes, he said, is a company appointed by the Reserve Bank of South Africa to act as the administrators for the remittances of all the ex-miners benefits, not only from Malawi but in all Sadc countries.
“While 17,807 have qualified as of now, we are forward looking that more ex-miners are going to qualify because these qualifying names have come from one fund; the 1970 Provident Fund,” he said.
The minister said apart from the 1970 Provident Fund, there are other provident houses that are yet to screen the same preliminary forms to check their members and these include Mine Workers Provident Fund, Sentinel Retirement Fund, Rand Mutual Assurance and the Anglo American Provident Fund.
“Regarding payments, we have been informed that the authorities in South Africa have almost completed scrutinising the Alexander Forbes forms we submitted and that soon, our ex-miners will start receiving their benefits. This is exciting news,” he said.
He said all the money will be deposited directly into the beneficiaries’ bank accounts through electronic money transfer or the bank accounts of the beneficiaries’ next of kin if the beneficiary passed on, saying the government will not be involved in the money disbursement exercise.
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