Against the alleged relationship between the minister for Mineral Resources, and the Guptas, Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has decried that his said relationship with the family is nothing but business centered on the country’s interest.
Zwane, who was appointed minister by Zuma in September, has been put on the line by members of the Economic Freedom Fighters, claiming that he has ties with the Gupta family and that he has been undergoing several trips that are not in the interest of the country. Hence the fight for his removal.
Comparing the relationship to that of the of Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani and Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg, the minister told the news media at the Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town that people ought not to make a big deal out the issue.
“I engage with them on the issues of the country, I engage with them on the issues of asking them to invest more in South Africa,” he said. “I will continue to deal with a number of CEOs and I will move to other countries to talk to them to attract investment,” he said.
The Mineral Resources minister further said he will raise issues of transformation with the mining leaders. He said he looks forward to seeing black champions venturing into mining.
“I look forward to getting new players and entrants in the sector…. We want to be upfront about this. People will eventually understand our ways of working,” he added.
Zwane also reiterated that he had not in any way, forced Glencore’s hand in selling its Optimum Coal mine to Tegeta, which is owned by the Gupta’s Oakbay Resource.
“Glencore is a reputable company, we should also respect the fact that the Glencore CEO is the most firm person I have met. The minister cannot just go to the CEO and tell him what to do.
“Optimum coal was in business rescue. It needed to be rescued in a particular way. The only player who was willing to rescue it was Tegeta,” he said. “I have not instructed anyone to give anyone a favour,” he said.
Speaking at an arranged presentation by TNA media – another company controlled by the Gupta family in Johannesburg, Zwane said his involvement in the sale was aimed at preserving Optimum’s 3,000 jobs for south Africans. He added that he flew to Zurich on a commercial flight without the presence of the Guptas.
“I will not favour any businessperson – whether the Guptas – unduly so, but I will not hesitate to help in instances, especially like Optimum Coal, where a business was put in business rescue,” Zwane said.
The Gupta family has been known for large business expanse in South Africa ranging from sale of computer equipment, media and mining since Atul Gupta arrived in South Africa from Uttar Pradesh, India in 1993.
Zwane however assures that selling the Optimum to Tegeta will be for the benefit of South Africans referring to a government policy aimed at accelerating black-ownership of businesses as a way to redress disparities caused by apartheid.
“Tegeta is composed of the majority black shareholders… we have to come together as leaders and come up with mechanisms so that we transform,” he said without elaborating on the company’s Ownership.