“Mr Zwane, you are now a minister of the Republic of South Africa,” said the Constitutional Court justice, Johann van der Westhuizen, officiating the ceremony. And with that, Mosebenzi Zwane rose from a little-known provincial MEC to the new minister of mineral resources, “So help me God.”
Zwane, a former Free State provincial MEC, was sworn in as an MP on September 4 this year.
On Tuesday night, President Jacob Zuma made a surprise announcement: the mineral resources minister, Ngoako Ramatlhodi, would move to the department of public service and administration.
The post was left vacant after the death of Collins Chabane in March this year.
On Wednesday afternoon, Zwane was sworn in as a minister during a ceremony lasting only minutes, at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
Zuma, as well as deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa were in attendance.
Zwane’s appointment caused a storm of speculation and controversy on Wednesday. This was partly due to the fact that he is not a member of the ANC NEC, and is almost completely unknown in national politics.
But it was also because of his alleged proximity to the Gupta family.
The Mail & Guardian reported last year that Zwane, as MEC for Agriculture in the free State, had taken a delegation of provincialofficials to India. Not long afterwards, officials met with private company, Estina.
The company would later score a suspicious contract, whereby they would establish a diary project near Zwane’s home town. National Treasury slammed the project in a leaked report, which the M&G saw.
Estina was allegedly given the land on which to rent the farm for free, with government funding to start the dairy project. Local smallholding farmers were supposed to benefit from the project, but these were allegedly only identified after the contract was signed.
Zwane also signed off on a government-to-government trip between India and South Africa, which appears to have given at least one provincial minister an alibi for attending a Gupta family wedding. The Guptas controversially landed at Waterkloof Airforce Base – a military airforce base.
On Wednesday, The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) slammed Zwane’s appointment.
In a statement, the party said: “South Africa is currently undergoing a massive crisis in the minerals and mining sector, and the introduction of a possibly corrupt Minister with no understanding of the mining sector and its global dynamicswill only worsen the crisis for South Africa. It is also evident that to gain promotion in Zuma’s cabinet, you should have strong links to the Guptas and be ready to violate Government procedures and systems. It will be a surprise when the Guptas take over the Department of Mineral Resources and flout all processes like they did before.
“We have for a very long time cautioned South Africa about a puppet President who is controlled by and accounts to one family, the Guptafamily which has relations with his children and family. The EFF will neverstop to expose corruption and explain to all the people that under the ANC,South Africa is not safe, and has been hijacked by a rich family, which acquires its wealth through unsavoury means.”