BY PATIENCE RADISOENG
Botswana Labour Migrants Association (BoLAMA) and its members are thrilled at the news of the finalization of the Tuberculosis/Silicosis class action, by way of a R5 billion unopposed settlement agreement before the Johannesburg High Court. The case is slated for 27 July 2019.
BoLAMA is a national affiliate of the Southern Africa Miners Association (SAMA) which is made up of eight (8) national affiliates of former and current mine-workers from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The association advocates on behalf of mine-workers particularly on issues relating to accessing social security and compensation benefits, as well as undertaking campaigns to stop tuberculosis (TB). SAMA focuses on advocacy, communication and social mobilization (ACSM) of former miners in Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). Thus plays the coordination role on activities and programs of its national affiliates.
On the 13 December 2018, the Johannesburg High Court issued an interim order which set pre-conditions for approval of the proposed settlement by mining companies and ex-miners legal representatives. The conditions included an open call to third parties who were interested in the outcome of the case to show reasons why the settlement should not be approved under the terms proposed on or before the 20 March 2019.
And a series of court documents were exchanged and was later followed by an intervention from the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) who were able to mediate engagements between the parties, an effort that saw the withdrawal of SAMA’s notice of opposition said BoLAMA coordinator Kitso Phiri.
“The main reason for SAMA’s withdrawal was due to the dire realities on the ground facing poor and sickly miner; the increasing number of death reports of miners who were party to the class; continued opposition was likely to dismantle strides made in reaching the settlement; the economic uncertainties of the mining industry did not guarantee survival of some mining companies; SAMA sought to see expedited disbursement of compensations to qualifying claimants,” he said.
Meanwhile in December of 2016 BoLAMA coordinated country activities, tracking and tracing ex-miners for compensation as per the government compensation scheme. The class action in no way disqualifies those who might benefit from the government scheme from benefitting from the class action.
He told this publication that BoLAMA has in the past conducted community outreaches and awareness raising campaigns on issues of miners and believe that since most miners were not aware of their entitlements, sharing knowledge was the first stage.
So BoLAMA would like to call on all former mineworkers and their beneficiaries to come and register with them.
“Our focal persons in the districts will be registering those who have not had the chance to register,” Phiri said.
Meanwhile parties has also agreed that the R-5 billion settlement which will be disbursed will range from R10 000 up to R500 000 in different classifications and mostly depending on the degree of ailment and length of employment.