/ 8 November 2011

Aurora: Zuma, Mandela scions face Parliament grilling

Aurora: Zuma

Parliament’s portfolio committee on mineral resources is considering subpoenaing the politically connected Aurora Empowerment Systems directors, Business Report wrote on Tuesday.

This came after the committee requested that Khulubuse Zuma, a nephew of President Jacob Zuma, and Zondwa Mandela, the grandson of former president Nelson Mandela, brief parliamentarians on progress made in paying the back-dated salaries and benefits of Pamodzi mine workers.

Aurora’s third director, Michael Hulley, has acted as President Zuma’s personal lawyer and was appointed as a legal advisor in the presidency last week.

The newspaper reported that the committee had asked the directors of Aurora to brief it 10 days ago, but had not received any response.

“We are particularly concerned that the workers will face another Christmas without any benefits … they face another dark Christmas,” said committee whip Faith Bikani.

Bikani told Business Report that parliamentary legal advisers would brief the committee on whether the directors should be subpoenaed.

Bikani said if the directors ignored a subpoena, it would be considered contempt of Parliament.

“We are asking our legal advisers what our rights are,” said Bikani.

Aurora was singled out as the preferred bidder for Pamodzi’s mines when they went into liquidation in 2009.

Its management contract had since been cancelled and it had vacated the premises.

Aurora has been accused of destroying infrastructure at the mines and causing the loss of more than 5 300 jobs.

An insolvency hearing is underway, but both Zuma and Mandela have said they cannot testify, citing ill health.

Trade union Solidarity brought an application to have Aurora liquidated as part of its claim for R3.1-million in unpaid wages to workers at the two mines. — Sapa