Zwane’s advisor instructed former mineral resources DG to resign in 20 minutes

Former mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane.

Former mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane.

Ramontja says the minister’s advisors were running the show at the department – which was not standard practice.

Former director-general of the department of mineral resources (DMR) Dr Thibedi Ramontja told the commission of inquiry on Thursday that one of the advisors of former minister of mineral resources Mosebenzi Zwane instructed him to tender his resignation within 20 minutes.

Ramontja told the commission that he was saddened to leave the department during Zwane’s tenure after serving under seven ministers, including Ngoako Ramatlhodi.

Ramontja said he was saddened by his departure, which was not caused by the government but by Zwane’s advisors, including Kuben Moodley who, according to testimony earlier this week, had introduced Gupta-linked Regiments to McKinsey.

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The advisors also included Malcolm Mabaso and Zarina Kellermann, Ramontja said, adding that they ran the department – something that was not standard practice.

He said the advisors were present when Zwane was sworn in, adding that it was his first time seeing them.

Ramontja further said that from the first day that Zwane was appointed as minister of the department, he could tell that the rapport between them was not what he had expected.

Ramontja told the commission that he felt he was operating in an environment shrouded in secrecy when Zwane and his advisors arrived at the department.

The advisors were issuing instructions, which was not the norm, Ramontja told the commission.

Ramontja said on the day he was instructed to tender his resignation within 20 minutes, he was called to Zwane’s office. Upon arrival, he was asked into Mabaso’s office, adjacent to the minister’s office, where Mabaso told him that Zwane wanted him, Ramontja, to step down and tender his resignation within 20 minutes.

Ramontja’s response was that he would resign immediately, however, he told the commission that Mabaso then attempted to discourage him from doing so, which failed as Ramontja still took the decision to step down for the sake of the country, he told the commission.

He said though he was well aware of his rights and could have objected the instruction, he told himself that it was good riddance for him.

“You can’t work through advisors as a DG … it doesn’t work … it was difficult for me to accept that,” Ramontja said.

He said he was told that the minister’s advisors would instruct the chief inspector of mines to inspect the mines, which made him feel he “was marginalised”.

Ramontja said during Ngoako Ramathlodi’s tenure as minister, the Optimum coal mine project was run by the department’s officials but when Zwane came on board, “they centralised that project inside the office of the minister, I was now not aware what was happening”.

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