Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has dismissed reports linking him to the Gupta family.
The Financial Mail reported today that “Zwane travelled with a delegation from Gupta-owned Tegeta Exploration and Resources to visit Glencore in Switzerland to negotiate the purchase of Optimum Colliery”.
This, according to the Financial Mail report, was confirmed by the minister’s spokesperson who explained that the minister accrued no personal benefit from the trip.
Zwane, a former Free State MEC, has previously been implicated in at least two Gupta family scandals in reports which suggested that he was closely linked to the politically-connected and wealthy family.
The ANC Free State provincial treasurer was appointed minister of mineral resources replacing Ngoako Ramatlhodi amid wide criticism of President Jacob Zuma’s reshuffling in September last year. Criticism of Zwane’s appointment was largely influenced by previous reports linking him to the Guptas.
Four months into his new position, his alleged Gupta ties are back to haunt him.
Zwane appeared irritated by the Switzerland questions raised at least twice by journalists during a media briefing in Pretoria this morning, but he composed himself to respond. He emphasised that he was not part of anyone’s deal.
“I am not involved in a transaction of anybody right now. I am not interested in owning a mine going forward,” he said.
“I have declared all my interests in Parliament ... I am a responsible citizen.”
Media reports previously implicated him as a role player in the controversial landing at Waterkooof Airforce Base of a private jet carrying guests who had flown into the country for a Gupta wedding at Sun City in 2013.
While agriculture MEC in the Free State, Zwane had reportedly introduced a R570 million dairy project in which a Gupta-linked company was involved and set to benefit.
Meanwhile, the Financial Mail reported that Zwane’s spokesperson – who is not named in the online article – said the minister had a policy of engaging directly with stakeholders to avert crises, specifically job losses.
“Minister Zwane has committed himself to ensuring that his office has an open-door policy. This, in part, requires travelling to meet with all stakeholders to represent government’s position on these pertinent matters. He will continue to do so,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying.
“No personal benefit is accrued from these. The minister and department remain committed to delivering on, and upholding, the Batho Pele principles.”
The publication reports that when asked whether Zwane had joined his company’s delegation to Switzerland, Tegeta director Nazeem Howa said it was “absolute rubbish” and gave the same response when asked whether the minister was part of the buying of a consortium.