Zwane’s role in alleged Eskom corruption ‘cannot be ignored’

The role of former mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane in alleged corruption at Eskom cannot be ignored, the Zondo commission of inquiry heard on Wednesday.

The commission’s legal team, led by advocate Vincent Maleka SC, put on record a number of reports relating to Eskom on Wednesday. Maleka indicated that the team had identified a number of gaps left by these reports which require further investigation by the commission.

Zwane’s role in Gupta-owned Tegeta’s acquisition of the Optimum Coal Mine from Glencore in 2015 is one of these gaps set to be more closely probed by the commission, Maleka said.

Maleka put to Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, the commission’s chair, that Zwane’s version of events must form part of his inquiry. The commission should also investigate whether Zwane “used his official position to unfairly and unduly influence” the contract.

The allegation that Zwane helped seal the deal on the acquisition on a trip to Glencore’s Swiss headquarters in Zurich was contained in former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report.

“Minister Zwane’s needs to be interviewed in order for his versions of events to be

obtained, it cannot be disputed that Minister Zwane indeed travelled to Zurich,

Switzerland for negotiations between Glencore and Tegeta,” the report reads.

The report added: “If Minister Zwane travelled in his official capacity to support Tegeta’s bid to buy the mine his conduct would give Tegeta an unfair advantage over other interested buyers. Further, it is potentially unlawful for the Minister to use his official position of authority to unfairly and unduly influence a contract for a friend or in this instance his boss’s son at the expense of the State.”

Zwane never put up his version of the Zurich trip.

In November last year, former minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi told the Zondo commission that he was sacked as mining minister by former president Jacob Zuma in 2015 for refusing to aid the Guptas in their efforts to buy Optimum Coal Mine.

Ramatlhodi alleged that Eskom’s then chair Ben Ngubane demanded that he take away Glencore’s mining licenses under the guise that the company owed Eskom R2-billion, a decision which would have jeopardised the country’s electricity supply.

“When I got out, a Gupta minister came in,” Ramatlhodi said, referring to Mosebenzi Zwane’s appointment as mining minister.

Tegeta was assisted in buying the coal mine by Eskom using the R659-million pre-payment.

A November 2018 treasury report recommended that Eskom executives, including Anoj Singh, Matshela Koko, Suzanne Daniels, Ayanda Nteta and Edwin Mabelane be investigated by the Hawks for receiving kickbacks in assisting the Guptas to receive the controversial prepayment.

Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.
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