The Botswana Labour Migrants Association (BOLAMA) a national affiliate of the Southern Africa Miners Association (SAMA) is excited over the recent development that allowed for a settlement hearing case to be finalised unopposed before the Johannesburg High Court on May 2019.
SAMA withdrew the notice of opposition to the ex-miners’ settlement agreement.
“Last year, 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 March 20, 2019.”
Southern Africa Miners Association (SAMA), a regional association made up of eight national affiliates of former and current mineworkers from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, advocates on behalf of mineworkers. It does so, 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 mobilisation (ACSM) of former miners in Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). It plays the coordination role in activities and programmes of its national affiliates.
“SAMA acting in the interest of its affiliates whose members form the majority of the class and dissatisfied with certain parts of the settlement agreement, including the lack of representation of migrant miners in the administrative structures of the envisaged trust, filed its opposition on the March 21, 2019. A series of court documents were exchanged. This was later followed by an intervention from the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) who was able to mediate engagements
He explained that the reason for SAMA’s withdrawal was due to the dire realities on the ground facing poor and sickly mineworkers; the increasing number of death reports of miners who were party to the class suit; 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 therefore resulting to SAMA seeing expedited disbursement of compensations to qualifying claimants.
Phiri said SAMA represented by its national affiliates BOLAMA and Swaziland Migrant Mineworkers Association (SWAMMIWA) attended the Silicosis Settlement Approval hearing at the Johannesburg High Court to confirm withdrawal of its opposition and endorse the settlement application as proposed. He noted that the mineworkers’ R5 billion-settlement approval judgement was reserved last month. The judgement hearing is slated for the July 27, 2019.
“We call on all ex-mineworkers who previously worked for South African mining companies and contracted occupational lung diseases to reach out to BOLAMA for more information. Further for beneficiaries of deceased ex-mineworkers to also come to BOLAMA for information. Further for Government of Botswana to remember its recent statements at the just-ended 72nd World Health Assembly held in Geneva, on out of pocket costs incurred by patients in seeking health services. “Support BOLAMA in protecting and enforcing ex-miners right to compensation,” he said.