SACP slates Mineral Resources Minister Zwane over statement

2016-09-03 12:13
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane. (Photo: Mining Indaba)

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane. (Photo: Mining Indaba)

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Pretoria – The SACP has slammed Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane for his statements regarding a judicial commission of inquiry into the banking sector over the Gupta saga.

"Minister Zwane's utterances effectively fed into the use of our Cabinet to advance the private business interests of the Guptas while ignoring public outcry and call for a judicial commission into corporate state capture," spokesperson Alex Mashilo said in a statement.

"It also shows how an individual cabinet minister can use his position to serve private business interests, break policy coherence and cause the confusion such as the Presidency had to clarify regarding Zwane's utterances."

Zwane, who chaired an inter-ministerial committee set up by Cabinet to probe why South Africa’s banks blacklisted Gupta-owned businesses, said in a statement that a judicial inquiry be considered to look into:

 - The current mandates of the Banking Tribunal and the Banking Ombudsman;
 - Consider the current Financial Intelligence Centre Act (Fica) and the Prevention of Combating of Corrupt Activities Act in relation to the banks' conduct;
 - Reconsider South Africa’s clearing bank provisions to allow for new banking licences to be issued; and
 - Look into the establishment of a state bank of South Africa with the possible corporatisation of the Post Bank being considered as an option.

Personal capacity

The announcement by Zwane was feared to cause further market turmoil, currency weakness and make a sovereign ratings downgrade more likely.

However, the Presidency said on Friday that Zwane's remarks were issued in his personal capacity and not on behalf of the task team or Cabinet.

"Minister Zwane is a member of the task team. He does not speak on behalf of Cabinet and the contents of his statement do not reflect the position or views of Cabinet," Presidency spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said.

"The unfortunate contents of the statement and the inconvenience and confusion caused by the issuing thereof, are deeply regretted," he added.

Mashilo said Zwane’s statement directly contradicted a public outcry and call to the President, including by the SACP, to establish a judicial commission of inquiry into corporate state capture not limited to, but including, allegations levelled against the Guptas. He said action must be taken against the minister.

"Such wrongful things must come to an end. The President needs to consider further action to achieve the objective," he said.

Calls to axe Zwane

Those sentiments were shared by DA Shadow Minister of Finance David Maynier, who said Zwane's head should be on the block. Maynier said they welcomed the news that President Jacob Zuma has distanced himself from Zwane's statement.

"However, the statement does not go far enough; it leaves the political door open for some of the bizarre recommendations, supposedly made by the Minister in his personal capacity, to be considered in the future.

"The fact is that the task team should never have been established and the Guptas should never have been allowed to effectively "contract" the Executive to carry out a "political hit" on the banking sector, National Treasury and the South African Reserve Bank," said Maynier.

He added that Zuma should step up and act decisively by immediately shutting down the task team looking into the termination of banking relationships with Oakbay Investments (Pty) Ltd, and firing Zwane from Cabinet.

Read more on:    mosebenzi zwane  |  politics  |  guptas

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