After many years of stalled negotiations, the South African government has agreed that Mozambicans working on its mines will receive their deferred wages on return to Mozambique in rand and not in their country’s currency, the metical. The old system was that the South African mining companies regularly sent the deferred portion of the migrant workers’ wages to Mozambique, where the banking system would convert them into meticais at the day’s ruling exchange rate, and this did not matter very much.
But in periods when the metical depreciated against the rand, the returning migrants lost money.
However, the new deal will eliminate the impact of exchange rate fluctuations.
A statement from Mozambique’s Labour Ministry said on Wednesday that a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Maputo on Tuesday by Mozambican Labour Minister Vitoria Diogo and by the chairperson of the mine recruitment agency TEBA (The Employment Bureau of Africa), James Motlanthe, on beginning the new system of payment.
Under the agreement the Mozambican mineworkers will receive their deferred wages in rand as from July.
Mozambican bank accounts denominated in rand will be opened as from April for all those migrants who do not yet have a foreign currency account.
The mineworkers will receive a bank card for these accounts which can only be used inside Mozambique.
Diogo described the agreement as “historical”, and stressed that the Mozambican miners would receive benefits in terms of “financial inclusion”, and protection from the vagaries of the exchange rate.
The agreement, says the Labour Ministry statement, implements a promise made by President Filipe Nyusi, during his State of the Nation address to the country’s parliament, that the Mozambican and South African governments were working to expand the range of benefits for migrant workers.
Currently about 32,000 Mozambicans are registered as working on the South African mines.