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Zwane defies Zuma over bank probe

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane. File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane. File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko

Published Sep 29, 2016

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Johannesburg - Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has defied President Jacob Zuma after he reiterated that he issued his statement on the judicial inquiry into the banks for closing the accounts of the Guptas in his capacity as a cabinet minister.

His statement on Wednesday also went against the cabinet decision that it never instructed him to issue the statement.

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Zwane, who was replying to a written parliamentary question from DA MP David Maynier, said he stood by his statement.

Zuma had reprimanded Zwane for the statement and said he had made it in his personal capacity.

This followed the investigation into the banks by the inter-ministerial committee (IMC) for closing the Guptas’ accounts.

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Zuma has said he was still addressing the issue with Zwane.

He was responding to a question in the National Assembly when he faced questions in the chamber three weeks ago.

But Maynier said Zwane must be fired. When Maynier asked him if he was authorised to make the statement, Zwane maintained that he was.

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“The minister was not speaking in his personal capacity but in his capacity as chairperson of the IMC,” he said.

This was against the statement made by Zuma that Zwane was not authorised to make such a public statement as no decision had been taken.

Zwane was also reprimanded by the ANC, which called on Zuma to take stern action against him.

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The SACP and Cosatu slammed him for his statement, saying he was not authorised to speak on behalf of the cabinet.

Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe told the media in Parliament after the incident that there was no decision by the cabinet on the matter of the banks, and Zwane did not have a right to speak on behalf of the cabinet.

When he was asked questions in the National Assembly after Maynier had brought an urgent question against him, Zwane stuck to his guns that the banks must be probed by a judicial inquiry.

He refused to admit that he was wrong in issuing the statement, but insisted that a judicial inquiry needed to happen.

This left opposition MPs angry at his attitude, and they called on Zuma to act against him.

The judicial commission of inquiry is the preserve of the president, and he is the only person allowed to appoint one.

The four major banks - FNB, Standard Bank, Nedbank and Absa - shut down the Guptas’ accounts this year. The Guptas were almost kicked out of the JSE after their sponsor, Sasfin Capital, pulled the plug.

THE STAR

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