Former mining minister says Brian Molefe helped Guptas ‘capture’ Optimum coal mine

Explosive new detail has emerged to show how the Gupta family used political influence to bag the prized Optimum Coal mine in late 2015 – a move that could have resulted in the loss of 35 000 jobs.

Former mineral resources minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi has revealed how Eskom chairperson Ben Ngubane and the parastatal’s controversial chief executive Brian Molefe had allegedly pressurised him to terminate Optimum owners Glencor’s mining licenses in the run-up to the sale.

Ramatlhodi, in an interview with investigative team amaBhungane, revealed how Ngubane had allegedly threatened to tell President Jacob Zuma of his reluctance to assist during a meeting to discuss Glencore.

Shortly after that, Ramatlhodi – who said that he refused to comply with their request – was shafted as the country’s mining minister and moved to Public Service and Administration.

Ramatlhodi was also one of the casualties of Zuma’s recent Cabinet reshuffle and has since resigned as an MP.

AmaBhungane’s latest expose contains a detailed chronology of how Eskom had put Glencore under severe pressure to aid the sale of Optimum to the Guptas.

This included Eskom’s refusal to renegotiate a long-term coal supply contract, forcing the company into business rescue as well as the reinstatement of a disputed R2.17-billion penalty that Optimum supposedly owed for supplying substandard coal.

The report, published today, said the suspension of all of Glencore’s licenses would have brought Glencore’s 14 coal operations to a standstill and risked the jobs of 35 000 employees in South Africa.

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