I did not steal from anyone – Joseph Mathunjwa

2014-05-19 10:05

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Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) leader Joseph Mathunjwa says he worked hard to escape his poverty-stricken background and did not steal anything from anyone.

“Mathunjwa is working. Did I steal to anyone?” he asked in the third person on The New Age breakfast briefing today.

“Mathunjwa comes from a background of poverty and now it’s a sin to have one, two, and three without stealing anything.”

He questioned why he was brought onto the show, and if it was because of the lifestyle he led.

“If this breakfast show is about my personal life, please arrange another show so I can speak on my personal life.”

The briefing was about the mining industry and the almost four-month-old strike in the platinum sector.

Mathunjwa was reacting to a report in The Star that he was “living in the lap of luxury”.

The newspaper reported that he had three BMWs registered in his name – a 3 Series sedan he acquired in 2002, an X5 automatic, and another 3 Series he had had since July 2013.

The newspaper put the estimated total value of the vehicles at R900 000.

It claimed he also had three houses listed under his name. One of the properties was a four-star guest house.

Mathunjwa also told the breakfast briefing that the minerals of South Africa should benefit its citizens first before it is moved to other countries.

"The minerals have to benefit South Africans first before it benefits people in London or wherever they are," Mathunjwa said.

He said democracy meant nothing if people on the ground were suffering.

"You can have all this democracy but if you cannot feed your family it means nothing. So therefore after 20 years of democracy there's no person that can say 'I've benefited from the minerals of this country'," he said.

"Yes we won democracy, we got many black presidents but what does it say to a layman on the street."

Mathunjwa said mineworkers were suffering, and the real issue was with the economy.

"Those workers on strike, it's not because they like it, it's a reality that they face every day."

Mathunjwa emphasised that the pay of mineworkers in the past had not changed.

"The pay of mineworkers from 1652 was made by British colonialists ... it was continued by the National Party. We hoped in 1994 it would change ... in 20 years, the status quo still remains."

He said mineworkers were currently earning R4500, the same amount that Indian and white mineworkers were earning in 1997.

"It took a black mineworker to get to R4500 about 17 years. We are 20 years into democracy and nothing has been done."

National Union of Mineworkers general secretary Frans Baleni agreed on wage disparities, saying inequalities were huge between race and gender groupings.

Members of the Amcu at Lonmin, Impala Platinum, and Anglo American Platinum in Rustenburg and at Northam in Limpopo downed tools on January 23, demanding a basic monthly salary of R12 500.

The strike has cost the companies over R17.9 billion in revenue and workers have reportedly lost more than R7.9bn in earnings.

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