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SA union to issue bursaries for Batswana

NUM’s Social Manager under the Worker’s development agency, Lekhotla Mabea

The South African National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has said it would start issuing University bursaries to biological children of former Botswana migrant workers early next year.


Speaking at a kgotla meeting in Molepolole on Thursday morning, NUM’s Social Manager under the Worker’s development agency, Lekhotla Mabea revealed that the bursaries would only benefit students whose fathers were members of NUM at the time they retired from the South African mines.


“Our mandate in the development wing of NUM is to look after the interests of former miners, energy and construction workers. The bursaries cover university studies in all fields,” Mabea explained.


Other countries, including Swaziland, Mozambique, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and South Africa have been benefiting from the programme. However Mabea says the delay in enrolling Batswana students was because there was no organising body within the country to facilitate the programme.


“In Botswana we did not have a link to the beneficiaries. But since the Botswana Labour Migrant Workers Association has been established, the facilitation would be easier,” Mabea explained in a brief interview shortly after the meeting.


He further claimed that over 800 mines’ worker’s children have already graduated from different fields with the help of the NUM bursaries.


“The graduates are all over the labour migration areas. They studied and some are still studying in different Universities including the University of Botswana,” Mabea further explained.


The prospective students would have to apply for the bursaries though the newly formed union of former miners, Botswana Labour Migrant Worker’s Association (Bolama) which is currently housed by Ditshwanelo, a non-governmental human rights organisation based in Gaborone.


The purpose of the meeting was to inform ex-miners and their beneficiaries on their entitlements and the claiming process. The benefits are quite old as they include pensions for miners who worked in the Anglo American and Induna gold and Asbestos mines in the 1970s and occupational health compensation for those who were injured on the job and those who caught lung diseases such as Tuberculosis from the mines.


The South Africans told the meeting that was attended by multitudes of elders among them widows of the ex miners that billions of Rands remain unclaimed because claims have not yet been made.


“Please keep any piece of paper you brought from South African mines. Tell your families to keep them safe even if you die because we may need them tomorrow. You cannot get any benefits without proof of those papers,” advised the Chairperson of the Southern Africa Miners Association, Moises Uamusse.


Botswana Labour Migrants Association applauded the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs for the work that the Department of Labour and Social Security has done in assisting Botswana Mingrant Ex-miners.


Last week, the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs published a list of potential claimants and called them to report to their district labour offices for possible compensation.

However, Uamusse said it was through the efforts of the new ex-miners association that the government is recognising the need for its people to be compensated.


“Let’s support Bolama for what it is doing. The government of Botswana is going to take recognise you. The government cannot help you if you are not united. Through Bolama, the government will come down to meet you,” Uamusse told the cheering crowd.


Uamusse also represents the Association of Mozambique Miners Union, that is, the Assiciacao de Mineiros Mocambicanos (AMIMO).


Even though the South African union claims there are billions of rands awaiting claims, it seems some will come out with very little compensation and some with nothing at all.


According to the union representatives, some of the older miners contributes about Two Rands (R2) every month towards their pension funds but were not compensated upon retirement. Some may never get compensation as they have either lost or misplaced their documents which are proof of employment in the SA mines.

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