Zwane no-show sets him up for formal state capture inquiry

South Africa's parliament

SOUTH African mines minister, Mosebenzi Zwane, failed for a fourth time to appear before a portfolio committee meeting in Parliament today laying the ground for a formal subpoena and an investigation into state capture in which he will take the stage.

BusinessLive reported comments by Sahlulele Luzipo, chairperson of the mineral resources portfolio committee, saying that a formal inquiry into state capture involving Zwane would be discussed at a follow up meeting next week. Zwane was due to respond to questions today, but did not turn up in Parliament – the fourth time since November – without giving reasons.

Speaking to eNCA, however, Zwane said he had submitted his apologies at not making the meeting. He seemed to agree with eNCA it was a case of “.. mixed up schedules”.

Zwane is alleged to have facilitated the R210m Estina dairy project that benefited the Guptas. The Guptas are led by three brothers who are allegedly the benefactors of former South African president, Jacob Zuma. It was after Zwane was surprisingly appointed mines minister in 2015 that the Gupta company, Tegeta Resources, was able to buy the Optimum Coal Mine out of business rescue, even though it’s though Tegeta couldn’t afford it.

“Zwane’s one previous appearance before the committee to answer allegations of State Capture was marked by evasion and defensiveness,” said James Lorimer, the DA’s shadow mines minister who sits on the committee, told BusinessLive.

“It is quite clear that he has much to hide. This has been underlined by the feeble excuses he has given for missing two subsequent appointments with the committee,” he told the publication. “The committee also agreed that if Zwane is unwilling to show up to the committee inquiry freely, that he will be forced to appear by means of a summons.”

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) last week called upon President Cyril Ramaphosa to dismiss Zwane after it emerged an official was dismissed from the Department of Mineral Resources who was trying to sanction mines owned by Tegeta Resources.

“The NUM … calls for … Ramaphosa to fire Mosebenzi Zwane and his director-general, Thabo Mokoena, because of their desperate efforts to suspend and dismiss experienced regional managers, compliance team and inspectors,” said the NUM in a statement. The union said it had witnessed the dismissal “… with immediate effect because of his courage to remedy all the detected transformation and compliance issues”.