National 8.9.2016 06:01 am

Zwane ducks burning questions on Gupta-related bank inquiry

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

Zwane told MPs ‘Matters discussed within Cabinet remain there.’

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane was yesterday at pains to avoid explaining why he publicly called for a judicial commission of inquiry into the banking industry. Such an inquiry may benefit the Gupta family-affiliated company Oakbay Investments, which has been dropped by multiple financial institutions.

Zwane last week said Cabinet had decided to establish a judicial commission of inquiry into the decision by banks to terminate their working relationships with Oakbay.

Even though the statement was not released by Cabinet, Zwane said: “According to separation of powers, this matter belongs to Cabinet. The issue of an inquiry can only be decided by Cabinet. “Matters discussed within Cabinet remain there.”

DA MP David Maynier, who posed the urgent question, yesterday continued to call for Zwane to resign. He was backed by the Economic Freedom Fighters and the Freedom Front Plus.

Avoiding the question about standing down, Zwane said the decision to remove him was “the president’s”. But Maynier was not happy. “It’s clear the minister is an embarrassment to the country, parliament and the ruling party,” Maynier said.

“Why did you issue the controversial statement? “Why do you think that it was reflected in the views of the Cabinet [which distanced itself from it]? “We do not want a hired gun for the Guptas in government.”

But in a move to almost back his controversial statement, Zwane said it was unprecedented that banks could make a unilateral decision to close accounts. The matter could not be left hanging as many people had suffered the same fate, he said.

Speaker Baleka Mbete also did not escape the wrath of the DA, as Maynier charged that she was in effect protecting Zwane from answering a direct question.

“You are trampling the constitution here… You are a disgrace as a speaker,” Maynier said.

“You can call the parliamentary protection services [and kick us out]. You are more of an embarrassment than the minister.”

 

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