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Cape Town - The migrant labour system on many South African mines should be done away with, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Wednesday.
The underlying social determinant of the ongoing unrest on mines, beginning with the tragedy at Marikana, was no doubt the migrant labour system itself, he told the National Assembly during question time.
“And if there is one good thing that must result out of this whole painful saga, it is the elimination of the migrant labour system. And I believe it is possible to eliminate it,” he said.
First and foremost, the mining companies should allow workers to return to their homes elsewhere more often.
The parties concerned needed to determine the details between themselves, but for example, workers could work for four weeks and then have two weeks off to go home.
This would ensure the “notion of (where) home (is) should be clear to all”.
Currently, with the migrant labour system, workers were separated from their families and loved ones for 12 months at a time and only went home at the end of the year for a week or two.
“That should be happening at regular intervals of not more than five or six weeks of absence,” he said.
At the same time, the government would have to ensure the workers' home areas were provided with basic infrastructure and proper amenities.
Motlanthe said the migrant labour system had contributed to deepening rural poverty and had had dire consequences for the dependants of the migrant workers, notably women and children.
Some of the consequences include broken families, limited access to education for children and lack of work opportunities for women, who often were solely dependent on remittances from men working in towns and cities. - Sapa