Idle staff spend their days watching TV while Alexkor is in crisis, Parliament hears

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State-owned diamond company Alexkor will run out of money by October, Parliament's portfolio committee on public enterprises heard on Wednesday.

Its Northern Cape mine, a  joint venture between Alexkor and the Richtersveld community, doesn't even have enough money to cover the retrenchment packages of the 150 people who were let go at the diamond mine.

Alexkor’s 2019 loss was R63.5m, compared to R12.9m in the previous year, Lloyd McPatie, an administrator of Alexkor told Parliament. 

The company delivers less than 1% of South Africa's total diamond production, but is an important employer in the Northern Cape.

Kgathatso Tlhakudi, acting director-general of public enterprises, said that his department had started an investigation into suspect outsourcing contracts at Alexkor.

The law firm Gobodo is managing the investigation. Information about corruption and state capture at Alexkor will be handed to the Zondo commission into state capture.

In the meantime, the Alexkor mine can't generate enough cash from its operations to cover expenses, and salaries can't be paid. Its status as a going concern is in doubt. It can't pay electricity bills or its contractors.

Tlhakudi also cast doubt on the management of Alexkor, saying that during his visits staff were seen watching television in the mine’s television room.

After inquiring why they weren’t working, he was informed that contractors were brought into do the work, because staff refused.

Alexhor has a 51% interest in the mine, while the Rightersveld community holds 49%. According to Tlhakudi, there is a lot of infighting in the community.

* This article has been translated from the Afrikaans original. It originally appeared on Netwerk24. 

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