Khulubuse Zuma: Lapping up the good life


President Jacob Zuma's nephew Khulubuse Zuma has a fabulous life - and an appetite for living large. The mining magnate owns 19 cars, including a R2.5-million gull-wing Mercedes-Benz SLS 63 AMG, and is known to spend between R3000 and R15000 on a night out at his favourite cocktail and cigar lounge.

Khulubuse is a regular at Cubaña in Durban's Florida Road, which he visits at least twice a week. Patrons this week described how the flashy ANC funder's bodyguard usually entered Cubaña ahead of him . Khulubuse often splashes out R2100 on a bottle of Johnnie Walker Gold, R750 on a bottle of Moët et Chandon champagne and R490 on an exclusive Cuban cigar, Cohiba Behike. He usually buys about four of them .

On Tuesday, he arrived in his SLS 63 AMG and ordered his usual double portion of grilled lamb loin chops at a cost of R99 a portion. "It's his favourite dish," said a source.

On Friday, asked if he would describe his lifestyle as lavish, he said: "I don't know about lavish. The only thing I know is that I'm living my life to the fullest every day, because I worked for it.

"I've never changed my lifestyle from when I started working in 1996 ... it has never changed."

He came under fire after the Sunday Times last week revealed that the mining boss, one of whose companies owes employees an estimated R12-million in wages, had pledged R1-million to the ANC at a fundraising dinner. He made the pledge shortly beforetrade union Solidarity revealed that a miner had committed suicide by drinking poison because the company of which Khulubuse is chairman, Aurora Empowerment Systems, had not paid him.

This week, Solidarity said that since Aurora took over the mines in 2009, it had destroyed 5300 jobs, impoverished 42000 people and polluted wetlands. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has asked the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal to hand over the donation to "the destitute mine workers".

"Over 2000 workers remain unpaid for a period of over two years while the fat cat moves around with expensive, luxurious vehicles. He has the nerve to donate some of his excesses while poor workers starve," said NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka.

Aurora has been struggling to secure finance for the acquisition and maintenance of the mines. Pamodzi Gold, which owned the mines, was placed under provisional liquidation, and Aurora was named the preferred bidder for its assets in 2009. At the time, it offered R390-million for Grootvlei in Gauteng and R215-million for Orkney in North West.

Aurora, which also needs funding to get the operations up and running, has since been mired in controversy related to shootings, pollution and flooding, and the non-payment of salaries.

On Wednesday, Aurora, which Khulubuse co-owns with Nelson Mandela's grandson, Zondwa Mandela, was summoned by parliament's portfolio committee on mineral resources to account for the litany of problems. Zondwa and co-director Thulane Ngubane were grilled by the committee. Khulubuse stayed away.

Zuma's nephew told the Sunday Times this week: "Aurora is 2% of what I do in my life ... I cannot sacrifice other business because of Aurora."

He told a newspaper: "I took my businesses like children, but if the one child is very sick, it doesn't mean the other children must rescue it. Some money I use to support the ANC. I'm a member of the ANC. And I can't take all my profits from other businesses to rescue the sick one."

On Thursday, Khulubuse returned to Cubaña, where he secured his usual outside table. He was joined by an entourage that included Zuma's eldest son, Edward, and a Zuma benefactor, Mabheleni Ntuli, who arrived in a white Lamborghini.

The Sunday Times established that when Khulubuse entertains at Cubaña, he tips staff between R200 and R500 each.

On Thursday, he drank fruit juice and coffee, while a glass of champagne sat untouched . He later told the Sunday Times: "I don't drink at all. I only have one kidney. I've donated the other kidney ... I'm a very generous person."

He also smoked a few cigars before leaving.