Former miners paid out R450m in previously unclaimed benefits in past year

Mining Weekly Online reports that in the past year, R450-million in claims have been paid to former Southern African miners to compensate them for unpaid pension, provident fund and service-award benefits. 

But, given that this made only a small dent in the estimated R6-billion that is owed by the Mineworkers Provident Fund (MPF), the Mines 1970s Fund, the Sentinel Mining Industry Retirement Fund, the Rand Mutual Assurance Company and the Fidentia-linked Living Hands Umbrella Trust, besides others, there is still much left to be done.  From the MPF, which seems to have most of the unclaimed benefit – about R3-billion – 15% had been paid out.  Executive director of the nonprofit facilitator Southern Africa Trust (SAT), Bhekinkosi Moyo, said this was a big success.  “From zero disbursement [from MPF], to almost R250-million; for us it is a lot.  We are happy to see that the funds are trying to disburse these claims as soon as possible.”  He added that there were almost 300,000 miners that still needed to claim for unpaid benefits, while many former miners had been traced during the past year.  SAT programme manager for social capital, Christabel Phiri, said these funds were facing a number of issues, including a lack of detailed information.  Besides the issues around information dissemination, there were also issues around legislation, which was a barrier that affected the social security funds in terms of tracing beneficiaries.  Moyo outlined that the establishment of a centralised database would go a long way in helping to overcome many of the challenges faced.  “Rather than having databases all over, with four or five funds carrying different databases for the same person, because the information is not shared, [we want to have all information in the same place].”  Such a database would ideally be managed by the FSB and the Regulatory Services Board, with oversight by government.  Moyo also noted that a lot of the initiatives that were happening needed to be harmonised.