Portability of Social Security Benefits in Mining Sector: Challenges Experienced by Former Mineworkers in Accessing Social Security Benefits in Selected Southern African Countries

South Africa has always attracted and continues to attract a vast majority of migrants from different countries and throughout the SADC region. Historically, the largest number of labour migrants has been concentrated in the mining industry. A large proportion (86 per cent) of migrants from Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland (as well as Zimbabwe) is currently working in South Africa. A majority of these are males working in the mining sector (about 60 per cent of workers in the mining sector are mainly from Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland). The significant gender‐based differences in migrant demographics have a profound impact on access to social security; as females are less likely to be in formal employment (and more likely to be engaged in informal economic activity with no social security provision). Eligibility for South African social security by non‐citizens and the portability of these depend on the migrants’ mode of recruitment and employment status, their immigration status, the sector of employment and (to some extent) the provisions of any labour agreement entered into between South Africa and the relevant country. Since a vast majority of former migrant mineworkers worked on contract in terms of corporate work permits, they are eligible for compensation for occupational injuries and diseases; and private social security benefits from their employers (such as housing, medical care, life and retirement insurance (provident fund) and long service awards).