MARIKANA, SEVEN YEARS ON
Pay us the money, say ex-mineworkers
Seven years after the Marikana massacre, a group of ex-mineworkers rallied in Cape Town to demand unpaid pension and provident benefits. They say their appeals have thus far fallen on deaf ears.
Civil society organisations marched to Parliament under the banner of the Unpaid Benefits Campaign (UBC) on Friday, in solidarity with ex-mineworkers and their families who want access to pension and provident funds.
The UBC said that, at the end of 2016, more than R41.7-billion in unpaid pension and provident fund benefits was owed to more than four million people.
“We believe that figure because we have lawyers under the Unpaid Benefits Campaign that are busy researching that amount,” said Lunga Guza, Western Cape co-ordinator for the campaign.
In a statement dated 16 August, the UBC claimed the money was being managed by private companies.
“These funds are held by both financial service providers and employer/occupational entities, overseen by the statutory public regulator – the Financial Services Board (FSB). This amount is likely to sharply increase when aggregating the total amount in all pension and provident funds, including the Government Employees Pension Fund and the Transnet Funds,” the statement read.
The group of about 60 men and women that gathered on Keizersgracht Street in the Cape Town CBD included members of the Right2Know Campaign and the Ex-Mineworkers Movement. No police vehicles were present to escort the protesters, but Guza said they had alerted the City of Cape Town of the march.
Protester Florence Mazula from Nyanga, whose late husband was a mineworker in KwaZulu-Natal, said: “We want all the money owed to our husbands who worked in the mines, not just the money for silicosis.”
Her husband was dismissed from his job in 1990, allegedly without any pay out. Mazula said she was unemployed and, like other widows of mineworkers, had struggled for years to care for herself and her children.
“We couldn’t educate them or support them, they ended up in jail or on the streets because the government didn’t pay out their fathers’ money.
“The people who are here are people who lost their husbands, who had brothers, fathers and children who were mineworkers and didn’t receive any compensation. We are standing in solidarity with the families of the mineworkers who died at Marikana,” said Mazula.
The protesters carried a memorandum of demands, addressed to the Department of Mineral Resources and the National Treasury, but no officials were at the gates of Parliament to receive the memorandum. Members of Parliament and parliamentary staff were attending a Women’s Month event and the document was eventually signed for by a “sergeant parliament officer”.
“Last year the same thing happened, when a mere administrator was sent to us to receive our memorandum,” said Guza.
“Generally, we are not happy because this is becoming a trend, a trend we cannot accept. We will find other ways to enforce that mineworkers be recognised as ex-mineworkers and they get access to their funds.”
Some of the specific demands included:
Payment to ex-miners and other workers of money kept by fund managers under the FSB;
Government facilitation of engagement with affected workers; and
An inquiry into the management of the money belonging to workers who died in mines and into benefits not received due to corruption and maladministration involving the FSB, fund managers, lawyers and other agents. DM