A nasty row is threatening to break out in government because Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane appointed his chief of staff, Seipati Dlamini, as a deputy director-general with the power to grant mining licenses.
City Press’ sister newspaper Rapport has learnt that some of Zwane’s cabinet colleagues are annoyed because Zwane – who is already perceived to be one of the Gupta family’s “appointments” in the cabinet – appointed Dlamini without following procedure and against all the prerequisites governing the appointment of state officials at this level.
Public service commission spokesperson Humphrey Ramafoko told Rapport: “The appointment of directors-general and deputy directors-general has to be approved by cabinet according to the executive protocol, the ministerial handbook.
“According to the procedure, it gets presented to cabinet by the minister of public service and administration.”
Zwane did not follow this procedure with the appointment of Dlamini.
The post of mineral regulation is a specialised role which requires a great degree of expertise and experience in the mining industry.
The previous holder of the post was Musa Mabuza, a qualified metallurgist with years of experience.
But three weeks ago Zwane abruptly transferred Mabuza to the Council for Geoscience, which is responsible for maintaining all geological surveys of the country’s mineral resources.
Mabuza will become executive head of the council, a post which has been vacant for three years.
“In essence a minster has a free hand in appointing people to posts such as adviser or chief of staff who manages the personnel in his office. But when it comes to strictly specialised posts the minister doesn’t usually have a say,” a source in the public service commission explained.
In addition, it’s clearly another appointment which will attract further criticism of state capture by the Guptas.
Dlamini, together with Zwane, played a key role in finding between R40 million and R144 million in the Free State budget for a failed dairy project in Vrede, Zwane’s hometown.
This project, the Mohoma Mubung Dairy, was managed by a Gupta-controlled company, Estina.
The only director, Kamal Vasram, is a former employee of Sahara Computers, which is owned by the Guptas. Estina’s registered address is in Katherine Street in Sandton, where various Gupta-companies are registered.
On Wednesday, Dlamini’s appointment was furiously defended by Mandla Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s grandson, in the portfolio committee on mineral resources.
This came after James Lorimer, DA spokesperson for mineral resources, demanded that Zwane explain Dlamini’s appointment to the committee. Mandela labelled the demand arrogant and insulting.
Zwane attended the committee meeting but did not react to an “invitation” by the committee chairperson, Sahlulele Luzipo, to explain Dlamini’s appointment.
Luzipo was clearly trying to find middle ground in the war of words between Lorimer and Mandela, but Zwane was not biting.
“I will consider the objections and react to them later,” Zwane said.
The post of director-general has also been vacant since President Jacob Zuma appointed Zwane as minister in August last year. The former director-general, Thibedi Ramontja, resigned shortly after Zwane was appointed.
When the post was advertised earlier this year, Mzwanele Manyi applied for the job.
According to Rapport’s information, this was on the insistence of the Guptas.
Interviews were conducted with Manyi but he was not appointed.