Johannesburg - Calls for action against Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane got louder on Saturday as the ANC called him “irresponsible”.
President Jacob Zuma has not indicated if he intends to take disciplinary action against his minister for making a public pronouncement on an issue without cabinet's sanction. ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said Zwane’s pronouncement had fed into perceptions of state capture by the Guptas.
Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said yon Saturday it was up to Zuma to decide whether he would take disciplinary action against Zwane.
He reaffirmed Zuma's earlier stance that Zwane's announcement had nothing to do with the cabinet. Zuma’s spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga could not be reached for comment.
A fracas broke out as more parties, including the DA, called for Zwane’s head after he said that the big four banks, Nedbank, Absa, FNB and Standard Bank, would face a judicial inquiry for terminating business with the Guptas a few months ago.
Zwane also said the Treasury and the SA Reserve Bank would be investigated by the judicial inquiry for failing to rein in the banks when they severed ties with the Guptas.
Zuma intervened to reprimand his minister after cabinet failed to confirm Zwane's announcement about the investigations into the banks and other financial institutions regarding matters involving the Gupta family.
Zuma said the government had full confidence in the banks and other financial institutions.
The president was in China with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan attending the G20 summit.
But the SA Communist Party (SACP) called for Zuma to act against the Minister of Mineral Resources.
“Minister Zwane’s utterances effectively fed into the use of our cabinet to advance the private business interests of the Guptas while ignoring the public outcry and call for a judicial commission into corporate state capture,” charged the SACP.
“It also shows how an individual cabinet minister can use his position to serve private business interests, break policy coherence and cause confusion,” said the party.
“The president needs to consider further action,” it demanded.
The DA added its voice to the call for Zuma to axe Zwane for his comments about the judicial inquiry.
The EFF also entered the fray, saying the Guptas must be investigated and not the banks.
But it remains to be seen whether Zuma will take any action against Zwane.
The confusion came into the open on Friday after the cabinet did not confirm that a decision was taken to set up a judicial inquiry into the banks.
In rebuking Zwane on Friday, the Presidency said the statement “was issued in his personal capacity and not on behalf of the task team or the cabinet”.
“Minister Zwane does not speak on behalf of cabinet and the contents of his statement do not reflect the position or views of cabinet, the Presidency or government.
“The unfortunate contents of the statement and the inconvenience and confusion caused by the issuing thereof are deeply regretted,” read the statement.
The Treasury and the Reserve Bank had not responded to queries from the Sunday Independent at the time of going to print, regarding Zwane’s claims that the two institutions must also be subjected to the judicial inquiry.
The tension in Zuma’s cabinet was palpable in Zwane’s pronouncement.
In a veiled attack on Pravin Gordhan, Zwane said the finance minister was part of the task team that looked into the banks dumping of the Guptas but that he did not attend any of its meetings.