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MBABANE - If you are a migrant mineworker, there is no need to stress about returning to work.
This is because the mineworkers will start going back to work from July 16.

In the latest development, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security Principal Secretary Thulani Mkhaliphi said the South African Government had reached an agreement with Eswatini, Mozambique, Lesotho and Botswana concerning the migrant mineworkers who were locked in their countries.

Migrant mineworkers were locked in their countries, when countries, including South Africa, introduced lockdowns due to the COVID-19 outbreak. During this period, cross-border travelling was temporarily banned to minimise the spread of the virus.

Mkhaliphi said in consultations with the South African Government, it was agreed that migrant mineworkers would return to work this month.
He was speaking on national radio yesterday morning.


He said the agreement was that transport would be arranged for the mineworkers. According to Mkhaliphi, countries with large numbers of migrant mineworkers would be given preference.

He made an example of Lesotho and Mozambique, stating that there were about 4 000 migrant mineworkers from these countries who were expected to return to work this month. He said as a result, those countries would be given preference.

Coming back home, Mkhaliphi said the agreement was that transport would be arranged for about 600 emaSwati working in the South African mines. He said the South African mines had contacted the TEBA Office to carry out the exercise. “Migrant mineworkers would be called by the TEBA Office as of July 16, 2020,” he said.

According to Mkhaliphi, the transportation of the mineworkers would last for a week as they would be transported in stages to minimise the spread of COVID-19.
“They will be expected to bring all their belongings so that they can be transported to the mines. There is no money involved in the process so we are not expecting people to fall prey to con artists,” he said. Mkhaliphi said it had come to the ministry’s attention that there were emaSwati, including migrant mineworkers who crossed to the neighbouring country through informal crossing points.

He warned emaSwati against using the informal crossing points as they risked being arrested for breaching COVID-19 regulations and the Immigration Act.
The relief came at a time when migrant mineworkers felt neglected when government negotiated for the return of people working in other countries.
Swaziland Migrant Mineworkers Association Executive Secretary Vama Jele thanked government for engaging its counterparts concerning the mineworkers. He said the stay of their members at home had a negative impact not only on their families but also on the economy.


Jele stated that over the past few months, the migrant mineworkers lost about E5 million in remittances as some had no salaries in the last three months.
“We are happy with the latest developments. We have been trying to locate the migrant mineworkers since they returned to the country so that government can get the specific numbers. Government has carried out its responsibility by engaging its counterparts concerning the issue,” he said.

However, Jele pointed out a few challenges. He said there were no transport logistics for the mineworkers who used their own transport.
He said the issue of transport logistics for those who used their own transport needed to be addressed soon so that they could know where they stood.

“The migrant mineworkers who use their own transport want to know what will happen to them as they have their own transport. They want to know how they will be assisted at the border gates,” he said.

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