National 7.9.2016 05:02 pm

Unrepentant Zwane insists banks be investigated

Minister of Mineral Affairs Mosebenzi Joseph Zwane at the Africa Mining Indaba on February 8, 2016 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in Cape Town. Picture: Gallo Images

Minister of Mineral Affairs Mosebenzi Joseph Zwane at the Africa Mining Indaba on February 8, 2016 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in Cape Town. Picture: Gallo Images

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane on Wednesday stuck to his guns over the banks’ treatment of the Gupta family.

He insisted that the country’s banks needed to be investigated for closing the bank accounts of the Guptas.

“I also stated that the matter which Mr [Democratic Alliance MP David] Maynier seems to be problematising can only be decided upon by the president of the republic,” Zwane said in the National Assembly while responding to an urgent question posed to him by Maynier on whether he would resign.

“Once he has sufficiently applied his mind on the matter, once the Cabinet has dealt with this issue, it would elect to make it public. There is no need to be in a hurry.”

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Zwane drew the ire of the presidency, the ruling party and its alliance partners, among others, when he issued a statement on Thursday night recommending that President Jacob Zuma institute a judicial inquiry into allegations that banks acted “unilaterally and allegedly in collusion” when they closed bank accounts linked to the Gupta family and broke ties with Gupta company Oakbay Investments.

The presidency later issued a statement saying Zwane did not speak for Cabinet, saying his comments were made in his personal capacity.

Zwane on Thursday indicated he would not withdraw his call for the inquiry, insisting that “many other South Africans out there have been subjected to this kind abuse”, suggesting the banks were discriminating against the Guptas, an influential Indian family .

“We should not judge people on their colour, creed or nationality,” the minister said.

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Opposition MPs tried to push Zwane on why he issued a statement that was not approved by Cabinet, but they failed to get answers from the minister.

Maynier labelled Zwane a “hired gun for the Guptas”.

“He has united the [African National Congress] ANC, the [South African Communist Party] SACP, and [Congress of South African Trade Unions] Cosatu in condemning him. It is clear that the minister is an embarrassment, an embarrassment to the president, he’s an embarrassment to Cabinet, he’s an embarrassment to Parliament and an embarrassment to the ruling party.”

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