The Department of Labour in the Free State reports that a whopping R2,2 million has already been paid to former mineworkers. These are workers whose applications for claims from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) were successful.Josial Ramokoena, provincial departmental spokesperson, says more payments are still to be made, adding that they envisage that no less than 1 000 applications will have been paid by the end of this month. “Of critical importance to note is the fact that this special project is only earmarked for ex-mineworkers who worked in the mines from 1983 to 1 April 2002,” he said. Ramokoena says UIF payments were done over eight days in the greater Mangaung Metro towns of Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu, which reportedly has the highest number of former mineworkers. He says there was a huge turnout of eligible former mineworkers from Botshabelo who claimed their UIF benefits. Other beneficiaries were from Tweespruit, Excelsior and Verkeerdevlei and Hobhouse.He says applications for UIF received from former mineworkers from Botshabelo earlier this year amounts to 5 072. “A mere 361 have been rejected so far,” says Ramokoena.The decision to pay former mineworkers UIF benefits is the result of the People’s Assembly Consultation held in Mbhizana in the Eastern Cape in 2007. Following consultations, a motion was tabled in the National Assembly on 19 September 2007 that parliament must establish a committee that will look at the issues experienced by former mineworkers. An ad hoc parliamentary committee was established with the following mandate: investigating matters raised in submissions from former mineworkers. consider records, reports and submissions by stakeholders previously involved; recommend points to assist in addressing their concerns relating to payment of compensation and outstanding unemployment benefits. Born out of this was a special project to pay UIF benefits to all eligible former mineworkers, as stipulated above. These former mineworkers are therefore called upon to come in their numbers to apply for UIF benefits.