Mosebenzi Zwane. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Mosebenzi Zwane. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

Parliament has announced a formal inquiry into state capture involving Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane‚ who is closely linked with the Gupta family.

The decision followed Zwane’s failure to appear before the mineral resources portfolio committee to answer questions related to state capture.

It was the fourth time the minister had failed to appear before the committee since November‚ and he may now be formally subpoenaed to testify at the inquiry.

Committee chairperson Sahlulele Luzipo confirmed the committee’s decision on Wednesday. "Yes‚ we will go for a formal inquiry‚" he said‚ adding that details would be confirmed at a follow-up meeting next week.

EFF committee member Thembinkosi Rawula accused Zwane of lying to the committee about his absences to avoid facing tough questions.

"He is holding the committee in contempt. Now we are taking a decision that all the questions we might have, we are going to exhaust in an inquiry‚" Rawula said.

Zwane is seen as among the Cabinet ministers that President Cyril Ramaphosa is likely to drop. He is accused of facilitating the controversial R210m Estina dairy project that benefited the Guptas.

The minister is also seen as key to the Guptas’ purchase of Optimum coal mine from Glencore, in a transaction partly financed by an advance payment from Eskom. He was even part of a delegation that travelled to Switzerland to meet Ivan Glasenberg, Glencore’s CEO, to motivate for the sale.

“Zwane's one previous appearance before the committee to answer allegations of State Capture was marked by evasion and defensiveness,” said James Lorimer, the DA's shadow mines minister who sits on the committee.

“It is quite clear that he has much to hide. This has been underlined by the feeble excuses he has given for missing two subsequent appointments with the committee,” he said.

Lorimer added: “The committee also agreed that if Zwane is unwilling to show up to the committee inquiry freely, that he will be forced to appear by means of a summons.” 

Zwane is clearly on the back foot, having been sidelined in talks between the Presidency and the Chamber of Mines to postpone a court case to review and set aside a controversial third iteration of the Mining Charter that the minister gazetted in June 2017.