Former finance minister Trevor Manuel. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African NewsAgency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Former Cabinet ministers Trevor Manuel and Siphiwe Nyanda will on Thursday appear before the Zondo Inquiry where they will briefly give testimony. 

This is after former Glencore CEO, Clinton Ephron, on Wednesday concluded his testimony about how the coal miner was strong-armed to surrender its Optimum Coal Mine to the notorious Gupta brothers, who have fled the country.   

Ephron put the blame squarely at the feet of former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe whom he said was actively involved in Glencore losing Optimum, which supplied coal to Eskom's Hendrina power station in Mpumalanga.

He said Molefe refused to renegotiate new terms under a long-agreed coal supply agreement (CSA) and imposed a massive R2.15 billion penalty that effectively crippled the entity. 

Molefe formally terminated the settlement process between Eskom and Optimum in June 2015, leaving the coal mine in limbo as shareholders pulled out and the mine was put under business rescue. 

Ephron said while Glencore was negotiating new terms with Eskom, Optimum was hit by a series of section 54 work stoppages in 2015 ordered by the department of mineral resources (DMR), based on "frivolous reasons".

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The section 54 work stoppage notices further crippled Optimum's viability, which was already under severe strain from Eskom's refusal to renegotiate.

Glencore had no choice but to put Optimum under business rescue even though shareholders were willing to refinance the mine. 

Ephron said audit firm KPMG approached Glencore on behalf of Gupta-owned firm, Oakbay Investments, with an offer to purchase Optimum Holdings, which included Richards Bay Coal Terminal, Koornfontein and Optimum mines.

Glencore rejected the initial R1 billion offer, but later agreed on a R2.15 billion transaction following a series of meetings with Rajesh "Tony" Gupta, former mineral resources minister, Mosebenzi Zwane, Gupta associate Salim Essa, and Glencore's group CEO Ivan Glasenberg in Zurich.

The inquiry led by deputy chief justice, Raymond Zondo, continues on Thursday morning.

African News Agency/ANA

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