Cape Town - "Am I being investigated? I need to know so that we can start dealing with facts and not allegations that are in the media."
Those were the introductory remarks from Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, who is currently appearing before Parliament's portfolio committee on mineral resources to answer on allegations of state capture.
National Assembly house chairperson Cedric Frolick asked the committee to request Zwane's presence to respond to claims in the public domain.
Committee chairperson Sahlulele Luzipho of the ANC said the letter did not give any terms of reference, save to say that Parliament has to hold the executive accountable.
Zwane said he was "surprised" to receive such a letter from the committee, as he had always been willing to appear before the committee. "An invitation would have been enough," he said.
The mines minister pointed out that the allegations are currently before the courts and some matters may therefore be sub judice. "I reserve my right not to answer those questions that may jeopardise my position," Zwane said.
Zwane asked members of the committee if they have lost "faith in their leadership structures". "Do we really want to play politics on this matter? On a public platform?"
Zwane said it is regrettable that the letter in which he was asked to appear before the committee did not specify which questions he would have to answer.
"I would have been happy if the letter went into specifics. Like what questions I need to answer relating to this issue of state capture so that I knew what questions to answer. The letter was very vague," Zwane said.
"To me, respectfully, state capture is very broad. If specifics were provided I could have dealt with it and help(ed) the committee to clear this once and for all."
Zwane said he is looking forward to the meeting with Parliament. "I would like to use this opportunity to clear myself from these issues. I just hope it will help members so that we can pass this stage and deal with our real work as the people of South Africa is expecting us to do."
Fin24 earlier reported that Zwane, in his capacity as Free State MEC, had been implicated in possible irregular payments of between R40m and R144m to a dairy project in Vrede, run by a Gupta-linked company, Estina.
Zwane was allegedly appointed mineral resources minister on the advice of the Gupta brothers when he replaced Ngoako Ramatlhodi in September 2015.
Zwane was also allegedly instrumental in forcing Glencore to sell the Optimum Mine to Gupta-linked Tegeta. Zwane stands accused of travelling with the Guptas on their trip to Switzerland in January 2016 to persuade Glencore to sell Optimum coal mine to Tegeta.
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