New minister faces mining rights conflict

2010-11-14 10:21

South Africa’s new deputy minister of mineral resources is the owner of mining companies and has secured diamond prospecting rights in Northern Cape.

Godfrey Oliphant, formerly chairperson of Parliament’s portfolio committee on public works, was sworn in two weeks ago as deputy minister of the department in charge of issuing mining rights.

Oliphant was appointed as part of President Jacob Zuma’s overhaul of the executive.

“In the same week that I was sworn in, I gave instructions to my attorney to effect my resignation from all these entities,” he told City Press this week.

But even if he resigns as a ­director of Letsema Mining, Letsema Diamonds and Slangheuwel Diamond Recovery, ­Oliphant still faces a conflict of ­interest through his shareholding in these companies.

At least one of them, Slangheuwel, was awarded prospecting rights on 31 pieces of land in Northern Cape by the mineral resources department he is now the deputy minister of.

According to Oliphant’s latest declaration of interests to ­Parliament, he owns 100% of Slangheuwel’s equity.
Oliphant’s spokesperson, Musa Zondi, told City Press the rights expired in March. This is contrary to the department’s own records, ­updated on ­October 19, showing the status of Slangheuwel’s ­application for prospecting rights as “accepted”.

Oliphant also owns 76% of Letsema Placement Team International, a recruitment agency in Cape Town.

A number of other new Zuma appointees also own private businesses:

» Labour Minister Mildred ­Oliphant owns shares in a ­company that used to be the ­empowerment partner of textbook publisher Afribooks. ­Afribooks was sold by Media24 to a private investor in 2007.

She also has an interest in a jewellery manufacturer and is a business partner of controversial KwaZulu-Natal speaker Peggy Nkonyeni and Travelgate politician Bheki Ntuli in companies that are, according to Oliphant, dormant.

She told City Press she would resign from all the companies;

» Correctional Services Deputy Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi owns shares in three companies and two trusts, according to his parliamentary declaration.

The companies are Zebediela Bricks, Legakabiwe Mining and Lithemba Investments, of which ANC MP and president of the Congress of Traditional Leaders (Contralesa) Patekile Holomisa is also a director.

Ramatlhodi declared five ­directorships, ­including his ­involvement in Maruapula Capital, which also has former spy bosses Billy Masetlha and Thabo Kubu as directors;

» Obed Bapela, the new deputy minister of communications, has shares in a travel and leisure firm and a mining company.

According to him, these interests are not in conflict with his new position because they do not operate in the ICT sector;

» Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture Joe Phaahla told City Press all the companies he had declared were either dormant or de-registered.

Phaahla said his failure to ­declare to Parliament his directorship in Xclurox was an “oversight”. His business partners in Xclurox were “looking at possibilities in the mining ­industry, but nothing came through”.

They had kept the company alive in case they “identified some possibility”;

» International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Marius Fransman said he would no longer pursue any private business interests. He is the ­director of MF Advisory Services, which specialises in “housing development turnaround strategies”; and

» Ben Martins, the new deputy minister of public enterprises, is a director of Safire Insurance and Ndlovu Auctioneers. Safire, according to his declaration, is involved in forestry insurance.

Minister of Human Settlements Tokyo Sexwale remains the wealthiest member of the Cabinet, with declarations of shares and share options worth more than R32 million.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.