Ex-Wenela payments set for early next year

18 Dec, 2022 - 00:12 0 Views
Ex-Wenela payments set for early next year

The Sunday Mail

Theseus Shambare

This comes after a South African delegation announced the roadmap on how the funds will be released.

The workers will receive payments ranging from R10 000 to R50 000 per individual.

Tshiamiso Trust, which was set up after ex-Wenela workers won a class-action lawsuit in the South African High Court in July 2019 to handle the compensation process, last week sent a delegation to Zimbabwe, which announced the good news.

In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Mail, Tshiamiso Trust chief operating officer Ms Tina da Cruz said each beneficiary will be paid depending on the level at which he or she had suffered from respiratory diseases.

“We are delighted to be here for a positive engagement with the Government of Zimbabwe and other stakeholders.

“We managed to develop a roadmap which we look forward to implementing. We are expecting that shortly, within the early next calendar year, it will be fully operationalised and will be receiving applications and processing the claims of the deserving claimants,” said Ms Cruz.

The trust is considering workers who were employed by African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony Gold and Sibanye-Stillwater.

The compensation is applicable to employees who carried out risky work at the mines between March 12, 1965 and December 10, 2019, and were diagnosed with silicosis before December 2021; or those who contracted tuberculosis while working at the mines, or within a year of leaving the mines.

To date, he said, Tshiamiso Trust has paid over R930 million to more than 10 000 claims from ex-workers from other countries like Malawi who went to South Africa at the same time as Zimbabweans.

The trust is operating under the guidelines of the Trust Deed of Section 13 of the Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act, which defines a person as doing risky work if he or she is exposed to dust.

Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Permanent Secretary Mr Simon Masanga said Government is pleased by the progress made, as the compensation was long overdue.

“We have a database of at least 4 000 ex-Wenela mine workers who will be subject to vetting before receiving compensation. The Government is going to set up an online registration platform, which will enable all ex-Wenela workers to register.

“As Government, we are now appealing to all these ex-workers wherever they are to start compiling all the necessary documents to prove that they worked for these companies.

“Affidavits are not considered as evidence in this process. Contractual documents, if they are present, will be crucial,” said Mr Masanga.

“A mobile clinic will be available to carry out tests that will ascertain who will be benefiting,” he said.

Ex-Wenela Miners Association of Zimbabwe national spokesperson Mr Newman Machinga hailed Government’s intervention, saying it was key to the roadmap.

“As an association, we are pleased with the development. We hope everyone who is entitled to the payments is going to benefit. We have been pushing for a long time to achieve this,” said Mr Machinga.

The association’s chairman Mr Rodgers Munakamwe said the coming of Tshiamiso Trust to Zimbabwe is a dream come true for former Wenela mine workers.

“We have spent the last 42 years trying to track down unpaid pension dues deducted from their wages without their knowledge and consent. Painful memories of labour injustices perpetrated against them are still fresh in their minds and a majority of the ex miners contracted chronic deceases in the South African mines,” said Mr Munakamwe.

“It’s sad that 25 percent of the ex-miners lost their lives due to lack of money to seek medical attention.”

Thousands of Zimbabweans migrated to South Africa during the mid-century gold rush. However, as a result of poor ventilation in the mines, many of them contracted respiratory diseases such as tuberculosis and silicosis.

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