On Tuesday, Ramatlhodi told Independent Media he was prepared to tell a judicial inquiry that Molefe and Ngubane tried to force him to suspend mining company Glencore’s licences at the time the country was going through load shedding.
Ramatlhodi also claimed President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane was the messenger used by the Gupta family to try to arrange a meeting with him.
The revelation has prompted ANC alliance partners, the SACP and Cosatu, to repeat calls for Zuma to step down.
Ramatlhodi said he held a meeting with Molefe in 2015 where they discussed Glencore’s R2 billion penalty for supplying Eskom with substandard coal.
“Brian (Molefe) was not keen to meet Glencore and therefore I was mediating (in) that matter. He was receptive to my ideas,” said Ramatlhodi. “However, after my meeting with Brian, the chairman (Ngubane) insisted they wanted another meeting with me. That’s when I realised that this was going to be a serious meeting, so I brought in my DG (director-general) and DDGs (deputy directors-general). There are witnesses to the meeting.”
Department of Mineral Resources director-general Dr Thibedi Ramontja resigned in December 2015, citing “personal reasons”.
At the second meeting, Molefe and Ngubane reportedly insisted Ramatlhodi suspend all Glencore licences pending the payment of the R2bn fine. A suspension of all its licences would have reportedly brought Glencore’s 14 coal operations to a standstill and risked the jobs of its 35 000 employees.
Ramatlhodi reportedly said Ngubane insisted that he suspend Glencore’s licences, but he refused. “I said I’m not going to shut the mine.”
The Eskom board chairperson then reportedly said he would have to report on their meeting to Zuma straightaway as the president needed to be in the know before leaving on a foreign trip.
Zuma went to China on September 2, 2015, and on his return, Ramatlhodi was moved to the Public Service and Administration portfolio. He was replaced by ANC MP Mosebenzi Zwane, who is allegedly linked to the Guptas.
Ramatlhodi said that if asked to repeat his claims in a judicial commission of inquiry, he would.
“I will tell the truth in front of anybody,” he said.
Asked if he was being forced to suspend Glencore to make way for Optimum, which at the time the Guptas were said to be planning to buy, he said: “I prefer to put my views to myself on that matter.”
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela had recommended a judicial commission be set up to investigate allegations that Molefe favoured the Guptas in the awarding of coal tenders at Eskom.
Zuma’s spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga, Molefe and Ramontja couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said: “Ngoako has spoken, he is a member of the ANC. What do you want me to say?”