Cape Town – ANC MPs tried to shield Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane on Wednesday from clarifying the "suspicious" appointment of a close ally to a senior position in his department.
At a meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Mining in Parliament, where Zwane was also present, the Democratic Allliance demanded that the minister answer for the potentially irregular appointment of Seipati Dlamini as deputy director general of mineral regulation.
DA MP James Lorimer earlier said in a statement that Dlamini is a “long-time ally” of Zwane. “[She] served as Zwane’s chief of staff for the last year, [and] was the chief financial officer in the Free State Department of Agriculture during Zwane’s tenure as the province’s MEC, when irregular payments were made to a Gupta-linked company for a Free State dairy project in Zwane’s home town of Vrede.”
Lorimer further said investigators for National Treasury have found that the R570m dairy project was “riddled with irregularities”.
“In 2013 both Zwane and Dlamini were implicated in that department’s possible irregular payment of between R40m and R144m to the dairy project run by a Gupta-linked company, Estina,” Lorimer said.
ANC MPs who attended the parliamentary committee meeting labelled Lorimer’s call that Zwane respond “disgusting” and “uncalled for”.
Mandla Mandela (ANC) rebuked Lorimer for making unsubstantiated accusations, while his fellow party member Motswaledi Matlala said Lorimer does not have the authority to “demand an answer” from Zwane.
Lorimer responded, saying MPs need to remember they’re in Parliament to conduct oversight on behalf of Saffers. “To deny that there are scandals at the Department of Mineral Resources is to deny reality,” he said.
Zwane was fingered in former public reporter Thuli Madonsela’s report on state capture for undertaking a serious of “mysterious” trips, during which he allegedly escorted a member of the Gupta family to a meeting with an international mining company.