Who is Mosebenzi Zwane?

2016-09-04 10:02
Mosebenzi Zwane. Picture: Lebo Maretele

Mosebenzi Zwane. Picture: Lebo Maretele

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Johannesburg - Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane is not the first minister to be publicly berated by President Jacob Zuma. Still, he certainly didn’t see it coming when he boldly proclaimed on Thursday that he had Cabinet support for a judicial inquiry into South Africa’s banks.

Much like Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Des van Rooyen, Zwane was widely believed to be the president’s point man.

But by Friday night, he was a dead man walking when Zuma distanced himself from his statement.

In a strongly worded disclaimer, Zuma said: “Zwane does not speak on behalf of Cabinet and the contents of his statement do not reflect the position or views of Cabinet, the presidency or government.

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

Zwane's background

When he was plucked from obscurity as Free State agriculture MEC and appointed minister of mineral resources last September, Zwane denied that Zuma appointed him because he had links to the Gupta family, who had interests in mining.

Yet one of his first tasks in office, three months after taking over from current Public Service Administration Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi, was to accompany the Guptas on a trip to Switzerland, where a deal was struck for the family to acquire the coal mine Optimum Coal.

His close ties with the Guptas could be traced back to 2013, when he played a role in the private jet carrying guests for a Gupta wedding at Sun City landing at Air Force Base Waterkloof.

He also had a hand in a controversial Gupta-linked dairy project in Vrede in the Free State, which had been probed by the Public Protector’s office.

Last month, the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) in North West warned Zwane to stop the “abuse of political power” in favour of the Guptas, following allegations that the department of mineral resources was involved in the capture of mines in Rustenburg for the benefit of the Gupta-linked JIC Mining Services.

The department had issued section 54 notices to mines and gave JIC notice to terminate its contracts owing to financial noncompliance, according to Sanco provincial chairperson Paul Sebegoe.

City Press has seen copies of the notices, which ordered a stoppage of operations on the grounds of health and safety concerns.

Sebegoe said then that “it cannot be a coincidence that JCI-related contracts are being reviewed, and then suddenly mines are being issued with section 54 notices.

He said this was an abuse of political power, warning Zwane “to desist from his agenda as he will be met with fierce resistance from communities around mining areas”.

Zwane’s appointment as minister last September had been quietly executed for a period of more than a month, starting with his unexplained disappearance from the Free State legislature. Parliamentary officials were caught off guard when Zwane arrived to take a place as an MP in preparation for his promotion.

It emerged, subsequently, that there was an “unusual” last-minute rejig of the party political list of those eligible to join Parliament.

Read more on:    mosebenzi zwane  |  jacob zuma  |  des van rooyen

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