MVA’s attracted mixed feelings at the stakeholders conference on its stance against the compensation of illegal immigrant at the height of an upsurge of aliens lining up for claims after being involved in road accidents in the country.
The MVA’s proposal was seen by the South Africa’s head of accident fund, Jacob Modise, as going against the basic principle of human rights.
“There is a concern on the issue of illegal immigrants because they are not going to get compensation. That will be against the basic human rights principles which, in the South African context, are also going to be serious clash with the constitution,” he said.
MVA, which is the best run accident fund in the Southern African region, is intending to shake up the current fault based legislation governing the compensation of road accidents victims to a “no fault status” in a bid to provide universal cover to all people involved in road accidents in the country.
The proposal, which is tied to an equitable compensation system, will be brought before parliament this year to usher in a more speedy compensation and care of the victim.
The proposal takes a wide range of areas such as tyre burst, accidents that occurred on private property and general damages which have been a bone of contention for some time.
The proposed changes will see the fund taking care of the medical costs, including that of negligent victims, and will also cover people who were involved in accidents while on government or with government vehicles.
The latter will be a positive move since people involved in accidents with government vehicles are not covered by the fund. And it will try to bring some social justice as some of those people do not have the financial muscle to engage government in court to get their claims.
“I do not know how you are going to implement this. Are you going to ask people at the scene of accident whether they are Batswana or illegal immigrants or are you going to ask for identity documents before attending to the victims ?” he asked.
The move comes at a time when government is saying it has experienced a big jump of costs associated with road accidents last year ÔÇô crossing over P 390 million in compensation and medical costs alone.
However, other indirect costs have not been factored into the calculations such as loss of time at work and expenses associated with funeral services.
Botswana seats in a sub-region which has a total of 26.5 percent of accidents per population of 100,000. This is among the highest in the world, but Botswana ranks second highest with South Africa after Swaziland in terms of road accidents.
The deliberate move has been praised by other commentators given that there is a rise in the number of illegal immigrants who are lining up for compensation and the majority of them are Zimbabweans.
“The situation is very unclear as to whether these are accidents or people happen to be involved in these accidents by design. We do not think to discriminate against them is a big issue since we already do that in terms of the provision of HIV/AIDS drugs,” one observer said.
However, they hailed MVA for being the most efficient and profitable accident fund in the region though fuel levy is the lowest at 9.5 thebe per liter. The second lowest is Namibia with fuel levy of 13 cents per liter.
MVA’s assets are valued at P 1.2 billion while the giant, South Africa, which gets a levy of R 6 billion per annum from oil companies, is seating on a deficit of R 20 billion with over half a million more claims still awaiting to be processed.