The Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe briefs the media following Cabinet approval of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2019. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency(ANA)
Cape Town - The DA is still pushing for the ethics committee in Parliament to investigate Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe over allegations that he had bribed two journalists.

This is despite Mantashe backtracking this week.

Mantashe had earlier said he had paid two Sunday World journalists R70000 to quash a story over his extramarital affair with a Pretoria student Lerato Makgatho.

But opposition parties and civil society were up in arms and called for a probe into him.

The DA lodged a complaint with the ethics committee.

Mantashe met with the Sunday World and the South African National Editors’ Forum where he retracted his original statement, a decision the ANC welcomed.

DA MP Kevin Mileham, who filed a complaint with the ethics committee, said the committee must continue to investigate Mantashe irrespective of his decision to change his tune.

“The DA remains firm in its stance that an investigation must be conducted by Parliament’s joint committee on ethics and members’ interests with regards to Mantashe’s conduct.

“The fact that the minister is choosing to chop and change his words does not exempt him from the fact that allegations have been levelled against him and he still has a case to answer for. Where there is smoke there more often than not is a fire,” said Mileham.

He said members of the Cabinet have to uphold the highest ethical standards and Mantashe must not be left off the hook.

The co-chairperson of the ethics committee, Bhekizwe Nkosi, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

In a statement, the ANC said it welcomed Mantashe’s decision to come clean and that he was never involved in the bribing of journalists.

“The credibility and independence of the media is the lifeblood of our democracy and should be safeguarded at all times,” said the ANC.

The EFF had called on Mantashe to resign when the allegations emerged.

He had earlier refused to answer questions from journalists on the matter when he appeared before the portfolio committee on minerals and energy this week.

Mantashe was briefing the committee on the Integrated Resources Plan to give direction on the energy security for the country for the next 10 years.

Mantashe was appointed to the Mineral Resources and Energy portfolio by President Cyril Ramaphosa after the May general elections.

Mileham said it should not be business as usual when members of the Cabinet lie.

He said Mantashe should be held accountable for his conduct.

He said Mantashe did not act in line with the Code of Ethics for members’ interests of Parliament.

“South Africans deserve conduct of the highest calibre from members of national government. Lying about admissions of guilt with regards to bribing members of the media is hardly indicative of Mantashe’s respect for the position he is in,” said Mileham.

He said the duty of the ethics committee was to get to the bottom of the conduct of Mantashe.

Politics Bureau