Maputo — The Mozambican Labour Ministry has guaranteed that no migrant mineworkers will lose their jobs on the South African mines because of problems with their passports.
A problem with the passports came to light when some miners, returning to South Africa after spending the Christmas holiday with their families in Mozambique, found that the machines used by the South African immigration authorities could not read their biometric passports.
It turned out that the passports, issued to the miners in South Africa, contained a defect. Negotiations between the Mozambican and South African authorities ensued to allow the miners to return to their jobs.
According to a Labour Ministry press release, a special post was set up for the miners, on the Mozambican side of the border, and they were allowed to cross into South Africa, if they could show both the new, defective, biometric passport, and their old manual passports.
The latter contain the details necessary to prove that they are indeed Mozambican contracted to work on the mines.
In the negotiations, the Mozambican side managed to persuade the South Africans to drop their earlier demand that any miner with a faulty passport must bring a copy of their work contract issued by the mine labour rccruitment company, TEBA. Forcing the miners to visit the TEBA offices in Maputo to take a copy of their contracts would have been extremely time consuming.
The Mozambican authorities are now optimistic that all the returning miners will be able to cross the border without serious problems, and will report back for work on time. New biometric passports can be issued by Mozambican government brigades inside South Africa.