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Johannesburg - Charity should begin at home. This is the message from mineworkers’ unions to mining mogul Patrice Motsepe and his company African Rainbow Minerals, which on Tuesday distributed R10 million to churches and community organisations.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) joined the nation in expressing gratitude for Motsepe’s gesture, but said he should find a way of doing the same for those who create his wealth.
The money distributed was from African Rainbow Minerals’ broad-based black economic empowerment trust, which was established in 2005 with the aim of funding rural development, including welfare, community development and anti-poverty initiatives.
The National Women’s Upliftment Trust, the ZCC Church Trust, the SA Democratic Teachers Union, and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) are among groups benefiting from the trust.
The company announced at an event held in Joburg on Tuesday that R85m in dividends had been distributed since 2007.
Cheques were handed over to various groups at a glamorous event attended by, among others, Zulu monarch King Goodwill Zwelithini, political veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, Free State Premier Ace Magashule and Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.
Unions said the same could be done to benefit workers at mines owned by self-made billionaire Motsepe.
The national treasurer of Amcu, Jimmy Gama, likened Motsepe to politician and tycoon Cyril Ramaphosa, “who bids millions on a buffalo while his employees live in shacks”.
Although its president Senzeni Zokwana, attended the dividend distribution ceremony, NUM said it believed that ARM needed to direct some of its millions towards those who create them, the workers.
NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka expressed his union’s disappointment in Motsepe earlier this year during a wage strike at Modikwa platinum mine, which is owned by ARM and Anglo American Platinum in Mpumalanga.
“It is very disappointing that a company co-owned by a black billionaire can treat black workers in such a shoddy manner and uphold the racism which has always existed in a traditionally white monopoly company,” Seshoka said in April.
He denied claims that NUM was in bed with mining companies, saying not even Motsepe, who is close to the ANC and is the funder of at least two Cosatu unions, had been spared criticism.
Seshoka said one of the problems NUM had with ARM was that the company had different pay scales for blacks and whites doing the same jobs. He echoed Amcu’s statement that ARM was not better than other mining companies that were still shortchanging their employees.
“Housing remains a challenge at Modikwa mine,” Seshoka said. “[Given an opportunity], we’d say to [Motsepe], go back to your workers and do good by them as well because we believe charity begins at home.”
Motsepe’s company stated in a newspaper advertisement yesterday that ARM had spent about R300m in the past three years on local economic development and social labour plans in addition to the trust’s R85m.