ANC: Aurora saga not our problem
Lauren Hess, News24
Cape Town - The ANC has refused to be drawn on a request from the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) to give R1m donated to the party by Aurora chairperson Khulubuse Zuma to starving mineworkers.
Zuma, the nephew of the governing party’s president, donated the R1m to the KwaZulu-Natal branch of the ANC for its local election campaign.
Soon afterwards, NUM, which is representing the Aurora workers, begged the ANC to give the money to the mineworkers, who have not been paid since March 2010 due to Aurora's financial problems.
"The NUM has noted with disgust media reports that... Khulubuse Zuma has pledged or donated R1m to the African National Congress in KwaZulu-Natal.
"Over 2 000 workers remain unpaid at Aurora's Orkney mine for a period of over two years whilst the fat cat itself (sic) moves around with expensive, luxurious vehicles and has a nerve to donate some of his excesses whilst poor workers starve at his mines," said NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka at the time of the donation in April.
Rich and poor
Since March 2010, thousands of Aurora workers have gone unpaid and have been left destitute. Many live in unhygienic hostels while one worker killed himself with ant poison earlier this year. They live off donations and food parcels from union Solidarity.
This is in stark contrast to Zuma’s lavish lifestyle, which includes several luxury cars and numerous mansions.
But NUM’s request to the ANC appears to have fallen on deaf ears.
ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza said the NUM has not made a “formal” request to the party but only through the media. Khoza said a formal request means either a meeting or a letter from the union.
NUM’s Seshoka said the union had in fact sent a letter to the ANC earlier this week about the matter.
Khoza said the ANC’s other reason for not mentioning whether or not it would give the money back was that the matter was “still pending at court” and the party cannot get involved in a legal saga involving other parties.
Khoza also mentioned that Zuma runs several other businesses and that the R1m did not necessarily come from Aurora. When asked if the ANC did not feel that it had a moral obligation to help the starving workers, he repeated that the party could not be drawn into the matter.
When asked several times if the governing party would simply give the R1m to the destitute workers out of a feeling of moral obligation, Khoza would not say for certain whether or not it would.
“It would depend on the merits of NUM’s request [and] if Aurora admits it owes money to workers.”
The empowerment company has political connections, not only that of Jacob Zuma, but Michael Hulley, the ANC president’s lawyer, and Zondwa Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s grandson.
The company has received numerous extensions from the courts to produce funding to show that it can take over the Pamodzi mining operations.
A high court earlier this year again gave Aurora until August 16 to produce funding guarantees from a yet-to-be-named Chinese company interested in investing in Pamodzi.
Aurora spokesperson Thulani Ngubana said he could not comment on Khulubuse Zuma’s donation to the ANC as it was not “my business”.
Speaking from Dakar Airport, the Aurora chairperson said that he was “not prepared to talk about the matter”.
Meanwhile, the Aurora mineworkers still survive on donations and food parcels.