Ex-South African Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane. PHOTO: Siphelele Dludla/ANA
Ex-South African Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane. PHOTO: Siphelele Dludla/ANA

'I was not married to the Guptas' – Zwane tells inquiry

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Apr 27, 2021

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Former Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane says his trip to Switzerland in December 2015, to meet with Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg, was to ensure that over 3 000 jobs at Glencore's Optimum Coal Mine were saved.

Zwane appeared for a fourth time at the State Capture Commission on Tuesday.

His evidence focused on his visit to the Swiss Alps and his relationship with the Guptas.

The commission previously heard testimony that accused Zwane of batting for the Gupta's company Tegeta which had an interest in buying Optimum Coal Mine from Glencore.

He had been accused of flying to meet Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg to broker a deal for the Guptas. In attendance at the meetings were Tony Gupta and Salim Essa, a known Gupta associate.

Zwane repeated his previous claims that the trip, to meet with Glasenberg, was initiated by his department and it was only meant to solve the issue of possible job losses at Optimum Coal Mine.

The former minister said the mine was in danger as it was under liquidation at the time, an issue that concerned him.

"I went to Switzerland to save a jobs bloodbath. I tried to save 3 000 jobs that were at stake for the buyer, I was not married to a particular buyer. I responded to the call of saving workers from poverty," Zwane said.

Zwane explained the December 1 meeting with Glasenberg and Salim Essa as follows: "In that meeting, Salim Essa was there representing Tegeta. We discussed possible solutions. And as the discussion continued, Mr Glasenberg said he was not well versed with issues related to Optimum. According to Glasenberg, he had invited me to dinner and I could not honour that meeting," Zwane said. The former minister said this meeting ended without a conclusion.

On December 2, another meeting with Glasenberg took place where Tony Gupta and Salim Essa joined Glasenberg to discuss the sale of the mine. Zwane said he never stayed in this meeting as he wanted to allow the parties to discuss matters on their own.

"The second day, Tony Gupta was there. I was not part of the second meeting. I came and introduced the subject of my concern and that a solution should be arrived at and I left that meeting and went into another room. Glasenberg said (after the meeting ended) that an agreement had been reached on the sale of the mine," Zwane explained.

The former minister said he never played a role in helping the Guptas purchase the mine and insisted that he was only concerned about job losses.

"I was not married to the Guptas that is why I left the meeting so parties could agree or disagree. It was never there to help any buyer or particular individual," he explained.

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, the chair of the commission, questioned Zwane on why he had flown to Switzerland in the first place as he never provided any "substantive input" on the sale of the mine.

"How do you save jobs when you have played such a minimal role?" Zondo asked.

"When I was at DMR this was not the only problem. It was not only 3000 jobs that were going to be lost (in the mining industry) it was a number of jobs. I had to try and get people talking and I did engage with other mine CEOs on this matter and we came to an agreement," Zwane explained.

The inquiry continues.


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