Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane on Wednesday again denied making any decision favouring the influential Gupta brothers, who are at the centre of state capture allegations, while at the same time not denying he has met with members of the family and their associates.
Zwane was answering questions by MPs sitting on parliament’s portfolio committee on mineral resources on whether he helped the Gupta family, who are friends with President Jacob Zuma, exercise undue influence over the state and its parastatals, and thereby giving them control over government decisions and state money.
“Why is this portfolio committee just interested in my meeting with just one family? I have said it before, I meet many people, and in Dubai, I also met some interesting businesspeople, including businesspeople in South Africa in the diamond industry, and I’ve already said to one of them, come and let’s talk,” Zwane said.
“I am not part of that problem. I am honestly telling this portfolio committee, if there’s a need to meet them, I’ll meet them publicly, anywhere.”
Zwane said that did not mean he was captured.
“What I will not do … I will never favour any person over the other. If I meet with people, I’m objective. If they are in the wrong, I deal with them. “
Zwane scoffed at suggestions he was aware of R30 million being diverted from a dairy farm project in the Free State, which he initiated while Agriculture MEC in that province, via Dubai and then used to pay for a lavish wedding for a niece of the Guptas at Sun City.
“I’m saying, in order for you to have a full story, go to the Free State,” he said, insisting there were records clearing him of any wrongdoing.
“I do not remember to any situation when I was there [in Free State government] when I was alerted by KPMG on any wrongdoing.”
The role of KPMG, which audited Linkway Trading, a company that belongs to the Gupta family, and was allegedly involved in the diversion of public funds invested in the Vrede dairy farm in the Free State, is currently under investigation.
Zwane rejected allegations he helped the Guptas land a private jet filled with guests for the Sun City wedding at Waterkloof Airforce base in 2013 while he was an MEC.
“It always puzzles me how easily do South African people get convinced on rumours. I always find it very difficult how would anybody believe that a mere MEC from Free State can influence the landing of a plane in a different province from another international country,” he said.
“At that particular time, I did not even know of this Waterkloof Airforce Base.”
Zwane admitted facilitating talks between Glencore and Tegeta, the company jointly owned by President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane, and the Guptas, to acquire the Optimum Coal Mine.
He claimed the sole purpose of his involvement was to save 3 000 jobs that were at risk at the mine.
– African News Agency (ANA)