Over the last fortnight the Mozambican government has recovered over 100 million rands (about seven million US dollars, at current exchange rates) that was discounted from the wages of Mozambican mine workers in South Africa, and has returned it to its rightful owners, according to a press release from the Labour Ministry.
The money was discounted for a social fund, operated by the South African Mineworkers Provident Fund (MWPF), but the Mozambicans had never seen any benefits from this fund, and so the government sought to recover the money.
In this initial phase, the money was disbursed to 825 former mine workers in the southern provinces of Maputo, Gaza and Inhambane. Priority was given to people who had worked on the mines from 1989 until now.
The Ministry release said the current campaign also involves opening bank accounts for the beneficiaries.
“On presentation of the required documents (miner’s professional card, and identity card or passport), the former miners, and the widows, heirs or legitimate representatives of miners who have died receive the money directly from the MWPF, through the banks indicated”, said the release. “It does not pass through the government, which merely supervises the procedure”.
The Ministry said that, in total, over 300 million rands belonging to deceased miners is available. The government has insisted for years that this money should be returned, and has contacted the South African authorizes and the mining employers.
The first phase of the payments ended on Saturday, but the government wants to ensure that all miners and their dependents who have a legitimate claim on this money receive it. The Ministry says it is working with the Provincial Directorates of Labour and with the district authorities to locate and register former miners and their families.
According to the MWPF data base, there are more than 6,500 potential beneficiaries. The MWPF says that it has publicized the scheme to return the money, not only in the three southern provinces (where most of the Mozambican miners come from), but throughout the country.