But Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi immediately scoffed at the gesture, calling it a lame attempt by the businessman to “clear a guilty conscience”.
In a move that is sure to fuel the fire around the controversial deal, a defensive Duduzane, 28, said he and his chums, the Gupta family, would be giving away R1bn of their new-found fortune.
The recipients of their largesse would be widows and orphans of policemen, needy students, rural women, and veterans of the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe.
The move comes a week before the crucial ANC’s national general council in Durban, where the president could face a showdown from party opponents.
The Zumas came in for a thrashing over the ArcelorMittal deal, especially as it coincided with a crippling public service strike over pay increases for nurses and teachers.
Zuma was roasted for ruling over a crony state.
Vavi described the deal as “outrageous”.
He said: “We are heading rapidly in the direction of a full-blown predator state, in which a powerful, corrupt and demagogic elite of political hyenas increasingly controls the state as a vehicle for accumulation.”
The furore prompted ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema to trash BEE, which he said was enriching “the children of those in power and friends of those who are in power”.
Malema added: “We must never allow that in South Africa, where African leaders and their families are the richest and their own people in their own countries are the poorest.”
On Saturday, Vavi said: “Why is he giving the money away? We are not opposed to people making money ethically and morally. He is missing the point. The issue here is that the ArcelorMittal/ICT (Imperial Crown Trading) deal stinks. It has all the hallmarks of illegality and it is immoral. Cosatu is exploring stopping that deal legally.”
Vavi said Duduzane and the Guptas were prepared to part with some of their new-found wealth was a tacit acknowledgement that something was wrong.
He doubted that they would give a portion of the money away and questioned how Duduzane and the Guptas settled on a figure of 70 percent.
“No amount of wriggling around will help. This is an exercise in futility, aimed at trying to clear a guilty conscience.”
Mining legal expert Peter Leon said the decision was “driven by a feeling, or concern about the appropriateness of the deal. I’m pleased that people are going to benefit from it… but the fact is the whole transaction is very murky and shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
“I think it represents the worst form of empowerment and crony capitalism.” – IOL