CAPE TOWN – Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has painted a rosy picture of prospects for the mining sector.
But he's had to face accusations of being a pawn of the influential Gupta family during his budget vote debate in parliament.
Zwane visited Switzerland, allegedly to smooth the way for the sale of the optimum mine to the Gupta-linked Tegeta Company.
The minister says mining is set to cushion the economy from the slowdown this year.
“South Africa’s mining production increased by 15% year on year in March and is set to continue growing as the global mining emerges from its winter”.
DA MP James Lorimer says capital investment in the sector has fallen.
“If the department and its leadership are suspected of collusion with cronies, investors are unlikely to feel they are in safe hands and they’ll stay away.”
The EFF’S Mmabatho Mokause said: “The EFF does not support this budget because it is a Gupta budget.”
Zwane says the government will use the Mining Charter and the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act to transform the sector.
ZWANE SAYS NO ONE WILL PRESSURE HIM TO DO WRONG THINGS
The minister has told MPs he won't be pressured by any body to do something wrong.
Zwane was responding in Parliament to a question from the DA about allegations by his predecessor, Ngoako Ramatlhodi.
In an AmaBhungane exclusive on EWN, Ramatlhodi has revealed that Eskom CEO Brian Molefe and chairman Ben Ngubane asked him to suspend Glencore's mining licences to ensure the Gupta's could take control of the Optimum Coal Mine.
DA MP James Lorimer asked about the issue during Zwane's budget vote debate in Parliament this evening.
“Perhaps the minister would like to comment on the allegations made today by former minerals minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi. He says he was removed as mineral resources minister after he refused to take away all of Glencore's mining licences in order to get them to pay penalties to Eskom. The question is did Zwane threaten to remove Glencore’s licenses?”
Zwane responded when he was replying to the debate.
He prefaced his answer by saying that as a disciplined member of the ANC he's duty bound to raise internal issues he's 'unhappy with'.
“Minister Ramatlhodi gave a statement in 2015 about this and that statement is still available in the department. Stop treating black leaders as people who can be pressured by any body. If you want a leader who cannot be pressured then come to me. Nobody will tell me to do something that is wrong.”
Ramatlhodi's allegations have been rejected by Eskom and Ngubane has described them as 'preposterous'.