Mosebenzi Zwane a no-show yet again, will face state capture probe

Mosebenzi Zwane. Picture: Deaan Vivier
Mosebenzi Zwane. Picture: Deaan Vivier

Parliament’s mineral resources committee will finally institute a full-scale inquiry into allegations of state capture levelled against minister Mosebenzi Zwane and whether there has been undue political influence at his department of mineral resources.

This decision comes eight months after Cedric Frolick, the National Assembly chairperson responsible for committees and oversight, instructed four portfolio committees to investigate state capture following the leaking of the Gupta emails in June last year.

So far, only one committee showed interest in a thorough investigation – the public enterprises committee, which has been conducting an inquiry into Eskom since October.

The mineral resources committee took the decision this morning when Zwane didn’t arrive to answer questions on state capture allegations.

DA MP Hendrik Schmidt quipped: “It’s clear that he is running faster than his Gupta friends are running.” This was the fourth time in a row that Zwane failed to appear before the committee on the matter. When he appeared in October, he evaded a number of questions from opposition MPs while those from the ANC appeared to mollycoddle him and protected him from probing questions.

It was decided that he would appear on a later date to answer questions. His appearance on November 28 was postponed as he called in sick and requested to appear the following day. He was however seen at the Free State ANC’s provincial conference, participating in the conference proceedings. He did not show up the following day.

The committee did not meet last Wednesday because Zwane was again not available because he was writing exams, according to the committee’s chairperson Zet Luzipho.

He allegedly requested that last week’s meeting be moved to today. Luzipho told today’s meeting that he had received two letters from Zwane, which were sent to the committee through his parliamentary liaison officer Melusi Nkabinde on Monday evening.

In the first letter, Nkabinde advised the committee that Zwane would not be able to appear before the committee as per the requested date of February 21 as he would be answering questions in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) during the scheduled time of the committee meeting.

“It is by reason that the minister humbly requests to be given a date of next week to appear before the committee.”

Luzipho revealed that he went through the programme of the NCOP and wrote back to Zwane reminding him that the committee had wanted to hold its meeting with him last Wednesday but that he indicated he was writing exams on that date and that he suggested today’s date through his parliamentary liaison officer.

He also informed the minister that he should have given the parliamentary committee “high priority” due to the many postponements and that there was no plenary scheduled in the NCOP for today.

Luzipho said Nkabinde wrote back on behalf of Zwane, saying the minister would still not be able to appear before the National Assembly committee but will be attending a meeting of an NCOP committee which deals with petitions and executive undertakings.

He would thereafter proceed to attend a special Cabinet committee meeting in preparation for the Cabinet. He suggested that the meeting be postponed to next week on a date he would communicate to the committee in due course.

Luzipho said he held discussions with Frolick, who felt that the committee must deal with the matter and find a way forward.

MPs from all the parties represented in the committee were angered by this development and wanted Zwane to be subpoenaed to appear before the committee.

But later they abandoned that idea and decided that rather than summoning him to appear for a few questions about his alleged role in state capture, they would have a full-scale inquiry that would resemble the one into Eskom.

This was proposed by the DA’s James Lorimer and backed by others, with the ANC’s Imamile Pikinini adding: “We have done our part as the committee; the ball is not in our court anymore. Our task is oversight … We are tired of not being listened to.”

The committee will draft its terms of reference at a later stage. Luzipho said their investigation would focus on whether at a balance of probabilities or political influence, there had been an undue influence on how issues were conducted in relation to mineral resources.

Andisiwe Makinana
Parliamentary journalist
City Press
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