State Capture Allegations: responses by Minister of Mineral Resources
18 October 2017
Chairperson: Mr S Luzipho (ANC)
Public Protector State of Capture Report
The House Chairperson of Committees, Mr Cedric Frolick, had issued a directive to the Committee to summon the Minister of Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Zwane, to respond to the allegations of State Capture. The Minister was not pleased by this act because he said he has always availed himself to Parliament when he is needed, but the nature in which the invitation was done did not sit well with him. The Minister also made it clear that he may not answer questions that are subject to the sub judice rule as he does not want to jeopardise other structures that are investigating and dealing with these matters.
The Minister was asked to clarify a number of claims that had surfaced in the public domain. The claims included his involvement in the dairy farm project in Vrede in the Free State; his reported involvement in the landing of a Gupta plane at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria; travelling and staying in hotels at the expense of the Guptas or their business associates; his alleged role in securing the Guptas’ purchase of the Optimum company from Glencore; his close connection to the Gupta family and President Zuma’s son, Duduzane; his relationship status with the Gupta family when he was MEC and now as the Minister of Mineral Resources; and the extent to which the Gupta family influenced his appointment as Minister
In addition, Members asked if the trip that he and his gospel choir took to India was paid by the Gupta family; the nature of the discussion in facilitation of the sale of Optimum Coal Holdings; whether the Minister or any of his friends, associates or linked persons benefited from the deal; whether he deliberately missed his flight to Zurich to board the Gupta private jet to Switzerland; the officials who travelled with the Minister to Switzerland; the nature of his visits to India; whether he was influenced by President Zuma to facilitate the sale of Optimum Coal; whether he knows any other ministers or government officials that are linked to the Gupta family or influenced by the Gupta family; about details in the leaked Gupta emails; whether his special advisor benefited in the sum of R10 million from the Optimum sale; officials involved in the discussion of the sale of Optimum Coal in Switzerland; and whether his Department is privy to the allegations that the imminent closure of the Guptas' Bank of Baroda account may halt the return of funds taken from the rehabilitation funds of their mines.
In his response, the Minister denied all allegations. For some of the questions he requested that he not reply as the matter was sub judice. He questioned the authenticity of the leaked Gupta emails asking by whom these emails were validated. He suggested that these emails should be tested and declared admissible in court before he is probed about their content. The Minister said it is unfortunate that some Members think that he is captured as he can attest that he has never been captured by anyone.
The Committee said legal opinion will be sought to assist it in deciding the way forward.
The Chairperson stated that there had been a command from the House Chairperson to have a meeting with the Minister convened and for him to respond to the allegations of state capture. In light of this directive, the primary task is to ask questions related to the accountability of the executive. The Chairperson appealed that Members ask questions that are about holding the executive to account. He said that the Ministry had requested that the Minister first address the Committee about the letter that was sent to him. Thereafter, the Minister would allow Members to ask questions about the directive received from the House Chair.
Minister Zwane’s comments
The Minister thanked the Members and the Chairperson for the opportunity and lamented that he was surprised to receive the letter to attend this meeting. He thought an invitation would be sufficient for him to meet with the Committee as he has always collaborated with the Committee whenever he is needed.
Secondly, the letter stated that he must come and answer questions on state capture, yet this matter has been put before a number of legal forums. This matter as everyone knows is with the High Court at the moment, which is a platform that is sufficient and trusted to deal with this matter.
The matter was also raised by the Public Protector, and the Minister supported her recommended action as it would restore confidence in government. The Member of Parliament, Mr Lorimer, had also opened a case against the Minister on the matter in question. The Minister believed that the Members were doing an honourable thing by utilising the relevant structures to probe and get to the bottom of issues instead of casting aspersions. Mr Lorimer went further to register this matter with the Registrar, and the Minister had no problem with that, in fact, he actually encouraged the processes. So when he was summoned to come and answer to this matter, he asked himself which structure amongst all these structures is going to take precedence, because it appears that the Members may have lost faith in the judiciary and the appropriate structures. The Minister lamented whether he is being put on trial publically without allowing the legitimate structures like the courts to do their work. He then asked whether he is being investigated, and if so, who the complainant is so that the process can start dealing with facts and not media speculations. He would have been happy if the letter went into the specifics on which other questions he needs to answer on state capture so that he is aware of what this process is about; but the letter was very vague. Respectfully, state capture is a very broad word and if specifics were provided he would have been very happy to deal with those specifics decisively. He is however looking forward to the meeting to take the opportunity to clear himself. Hopefully, this process will assist Members to move past this matter as it relates to him and resume dealing with the real issues that are affecting South Africans. Lastly, as this matter is before the judiciary and other structures, there are questions that he may not be able to answer.
The Chairperson stated that the letter came from the House Chair, and it was indeed sent back to the House Chair for clarity on the terms of reference. The response from the House Chair was very clear that the Committee was to summon the Minister. Secondly, the Committee was not aware that there are other pending processes particularly those instituted by members of this Committee (referring to Mr Lorimer). With that being said, the Committee has a directive to deal with the matter. With regards to the sub-judice questions, the Committee will deal with those specific matters to the extent they are prejudicial.
The Chairperson welcomed the Minister’s sentiments and comments, and handed over to Members to ask their questions.
Nkosi Mandla Mandela (ANC) asked whether the Gupta family had any influence over the Minister’s appointment as a Cabinet Minister. Was the Minister aware at any stage that the Guptas had offered any cabinet positions, senior positions in government or the parastatals and if he was aware at any stage whether the head of the executive did anything to investigate such claims. He asked if the Minister was party to any discussions on such appointments in the presence or absence of the Guptas or their aides; and if the Head of the Executive had at any stage discussed or intimated anything that may be construed as undue influence on such appointments. He asked if Minister Zwane considered such alleged influence, if it were true, to constitute an unethical act, a violation of any code or law of the Republic or whether such influence could in any way be construed to be in the best interest of the Republic or in the best interest of its people.
he asked if the Minister is a friend, associate or enjoys any kind of relationship with the Gupta family; and if he has ever been involved directly or indirectly with the Gupta family in any business activities. He asked if at any stage he was party to discussions, or received any instructions from the President and/or was part of any meeting of Cabinet or private meetings that may be construed or seen to support such allegations.
He asked the Minister to enlighten the Committee on allegations in the State Capture Report linking him to a dairy farm project in Vrede which apparently benefited the controversial Gupta family. Is there any merit in such allegations? If so, can the Minister elaborate on the nature of such involvement? If not, is the Minister aware of the involvement of other cabinet ministers or state officials in the alleged transaction? He asked if the Minister was allegedly involved in the Gupta family plane landing at the Waterkloof Air Force Base for the infamous Sun City wedding in 2013. He said the Committee remains committed to deal with allegations of state capture in the public interest. It is alleged that the Minister undertook overseas travel to Zurich, Switzerland and then proceeded to Dubai, UAE then Delhi, India. The Minister went back to Dubai, then Johannesburg, at a cost of R96 630. He asked the Minister to confirm this, and if such trips were for his personal interests or official state business. If the latter, kindly provide details of each destination and the stated purpose; if in a personal capacity, can the Minister disclose whether such trips were at the behest of the Gupta family or to advance the Gupta family interests, and clarify if the state bore the costs of this trip or any such trips?
Mr M Paulsen (EFF) stated that before the Minister was appointed to the Cabinet of uBaba ka Duduzane, he was the Free State MEC of Agriculture and drove the Vrede Farm government project in June 2012. He asked if in October that year the Gupta family took he and his gospel choir on an all expenses paid trip to India. If yes, did any company associated with the Gupta family pay for the trip. Secondly, in a leaked email it was discovered that more than R180 million of this money was channelled through a complex web of local and international companies all controlled or associated with the Gupta family; and close to R30 million was paid to a company in Dubai and an equal amount paid back to a wedding company in South Africa. Did the Minister approve the dairy farm project in the Free State and did KPMG raise any concerns about the possible corrupt transaction in this project. Thirdly, did you or a member of your family or friends benefit from the farm project?
Mr Paulsen said that the Minister travelled to Switzerland officially to promote investments in South Africa and he claimed that he was accompanied by his officials. The trip cost R347 000 and you were asked if you travelled with any other person other than officials. You never denied this but refused to disclose whether or not there were any other persons on that trip. So was there anyone else who is not any employee of your department, who travelled to Switzerland.
He asked if the Minister met with anyone from Tegeta and ended up going to a meeting to discuss the sale of Optimum Coal, and if he met with anyone from Glencore while he was in Switzerland. If he did so, was the sale of Optimum Coal on the discussion table. Did the Minister discuss the R2.1 billion Eskom fine for poor performance?
Did the Minister miss his booked flight from Zurich to Dubai, and then fly from Zurich to India? If yes, on which airline did he fly to India and what exactly was he doing in India? Lastly, he asked if the Minister was ever inside the Gupta Bombadier jet.
Mr J Lorimer (DA) requested if it would be possible for the Minister to answer the questions that have already been asked, because there are questions that the Minister indicated he would not be able answer due to such being sub-judice.
The Chairperson responded that the Committee will deal with each question when it deems that the question asked will not prejudice other processes currently dealing with these matters.
Adv H Schmidt (DA) said that trying to reply to so many questions posed thus far will be untenable for the Minister. Therefore he suggested that perhaps the Minister answer the questions asked thus far.
The Chairperson stated that if the Minister does not answer a certain question, the Member who asked the question has every right to request the Minister to answer.
Ms M Mafolo (ANC) said that the Members are taking a long time debating the process instead of the content and context to which the Minister was called to respond.
Mr Mandela said that Members have been accused of dragging their feet on this matter, and now that the Minister is here he wishes to ask as many questions he can possibly ask because the Minister is more than capable to answer any questions posed.
Mr Paulsen asked Mr Mandela what he meant by saying that “we have been accused of dragging our feet on this matter”, and if this means the Committee is the extension of the Executive.
The Chairperson dismissed Mr Paulsen, and stated that, yes, it was the case, but it is not relevant right now. The focus is on asking the Minister questions, and Members should allow him to chair the meeting.
Mr Lorimer asked the Minister to disclose the first time he met a member of the Gupta family or anyone closely associated with their related organisations.
Mr Schmidt asked the Minister if he knows why Mr France Mokoena and Mr Tony Rajesh Gupta sent his CV with or without his knowledge to Mr Duduzane Zuma. He asked the Minister to describe his relations with the Gupta family and in particular Mr Tony Gupta.
Minister Mosebenzi Zwane responded that he had answered these questions more than ten times on different platforms and he wishes Members can take notes so that they do not bring them up again. He had indicated before that the appointment of the Members of Cabinet is the responsibility of the President, and when he was appointed in 2015 the same process was followed as is the case with everyone else and he is not aware of any situation where he had to discuss his appointment with anyone.
He had indicated before that in his work, he has met with the Gupta family, and many others, in ensuring that investment is brought into the country or to resolve persisting problems at the time. When he assumed office it was reported that about 85 000 workers in the mines were possibly going to lose their jobs and of the 85 000, there were 3 000 that were urgent because the company was put under care and maintenance, which meant the company was unable to operate further. The owners of that company were Glencore. In response to this, he was looking for an interested buyer, and he was told that only one company called Tegeta showed interest. He took it upon himself to bring the two companies together to try and resolve the matter. This is when the trip to Switzerland occurred because he was told that the owners of Oakbay resided there. He had openly stated that he facilitated that the two parties meet and talk and deal with matters. When the issues were resolved, 3 000 jobs were saved. He did not discuss any other matters such as the Eskom R2.1 billion non-performance fine. He emphasized that the point of the trip was to save the 3 000 jobs.
When he assumed office as the Minister of Mineral Resources, he did not move with the portfolio of Agriculture to Minerals. He found it interesting that he had to deal with matters that occurred in 2011, before he assumed office. All the files dealing with the Vrede farm project are in the hands of the MEC in Bloemfontein. Members are more than welcome to request all the information they need about the farm from the MEC.
Mr Paulsen interjected that the Minister cannot side-step the questions on the Vrede farm; he needs to directly answer the questions asked.
The Chairperson responded that this is not the manner to deal with the questions not answered adequately. The Member can do a follow-up if he is not satisfied with the answer. The Chairperson appealed to Members that the process be allowed to pan out in that fashion.
The Minister resumed with his responses, saying that he is not afraid of anything to do with the Vrede farm, but if he has to answer questions relating to his predecessors’ decisions, he cannot do that. The leadership in Free State is ready to answer any questions on this matter. He placed it on record that the idea behind the Vrede farm was initiated by him. When he initiated it; he met with all the political parties including DA, EFF, COPE and the Freedom Front Plus and others in the Free State. It is on record that all political parties in the provincial legislature supported the project, including the DA.
Mr Paulsen interjected and said the Minister is mad for saying that the EFF was there, because the EFF only came to the fore in 2014 and this project was initiated in 2012.
The Chairperson interjected and appealed to the Minister to act as if he had not heard that and proceed with his responses in the interests of time. However, he noted Mr Paulsen’s unsavoury language.
The Minister resumed, stating that the Members who were there supported the project. He did not initiate the project because he wanted to benefit. The idea behind the project was borne by the fact that black people are not active players in the dairy industry. The aim was to bring a balance in the milk industry because the beneficiaries of the project are all black. For further details, the information on this project is available at the Department of Agriculture. Members can request it.
As for the Waterkloof Air Force Base, he said it always puzzles him how easily South Africans get convinced by rumours and believe a mere MEC can influence the landing of a plane in a different province from another country. At that particular time he did not even know about the Waterkloof Air Force Base.
He had travelled to all the mentioned countries on investment missions, and if Members want more information on this they can look at the court papers. When he went to Switzerland he was not aware who else was travelling with him on the plane except for his officials.
As for when he first met the Gupta family or persons linked to their companies, he stated that he does not always remember the first time he meets people, unless they are very dear to him. So he may not be able to answer the question appropriately because he meets a lot of business people in his work. So why is this Portfolio Committee interested in his meeting with one family? He meets a lot people, and in Dubai he meets the same people he discusses business with in order to beneficiate South Africa. The Minister made it clear that he will meet the Gupta family anytime it is necessary to do so, especially if it is business related, but he will never favour any business person over the other; he is often objective in dealing with business people and there are records that can support this.
As for his CV, he is not aware why his CV was being circulated amongst a group of people.
Mr Paulsen wanted to interject and speak.
An official amongst the Minister’s delegation shouted at Mr Paulsen to shut up.
Mr Paulsen raised this with the Chairperson.
The Chairperson responded that Mr Paulsen had called the Minister a mad man, and no one called him to order about that. Therefore, he needs to stick to the line because the Committee is now dealing with a very important matter. In fact the Minister has every right to complain about the fact that he was insulted and called a mad man but he remained calm. So Mr Paulsen cannot complain.
The Minister responded that he does not know of a Baba ka Duduzane but the Honourable President Jacob Zuma. From now onwards, that is how he will engage with Members asking about Baba Ka Duduzane.
The Minister said he had made it very clear that he does not know anything about the R30 million given to a wedding company.
The Chairperson reiterated questions that the Minister did not answer. He noted that after the process has been completed, the Committee will have to assess the answers provided by the Minister.
The Minister responded that the details of his trips are in his answering papers in court. He requested that those matters therefore be dealt with at that level.
Mr Paulsen said that the Committee needs to determine the relationship between the Minister and the Gupta family and at which stage the Minister was captured. So in October 2012, the Minister went to India with his choir. He asked if the Gupta family paid for this trip and if he has been inside the Bombardier Jet of the Gupta family.
Mr Schmidt said that the Minister is not taking notes of the questions, and it seems that the Minister is answering questions off top of his head and that is not a problem if he has a good memory. However, if the Minister fails to properly answer the questions, he will deem that he wilfully declined to answer the questions. He said that he has an email dated 20 October 2012, the email was allegedly sent by the Minister; he asked the whether the Gupta family paid for the trip, and did he send that email and lastly, who is NG and NP Zwane. This is important. He has not answered his previous questions. His question was specifically about the nature of his relationship with the Gupta family and the status of that relationship now.
Mr Schmidt referred to the Waterkloof Air Force Base and said that an official invitation to you was sent in March 2013 drafted by someone else and you signed it on the official MEC letterhead asking the Minister of Defence who had refused for the plane to land at the Waterkloof. There was a letter sent to another Gupta who is based in India, the man is known as the High Commissioner, with the consequence that that plane landed in Waterkloof.
Mr Schmidt said that the Minister went on a flight in December 2015 after his appointment, and in Zurich he did not catch his scheduled flight and he then took a private flight paid by the Guptas and stayed in the hotel that was paid by the same family. The point is that you did not pay, and this is the crucial point. After facilitating the sale of the mine, the Minister missed his flight again and flew in a plane paid by the Guptas, so if this is not a conflict of interest then he could not understand what a conflict of interest is.
Mr Schmidt said Minister Zwane has a personal advisor and special advisor. His special advisor Mr Kuben Moodley is in business with Mr Gupta. It is alleged that his personal advisor benefited R10 million from the sale of the mine, Optimum Coal Holdings, to the Gupta family. So how does the Minister appoint someone who has a conflict of interest with the Gupta family as your personal advisor? The Minister’s argument that he treats the Gupta family like any other business person is not true. He appealed to the Minister to answer the fair questions posed to him.
Mr Mandela asked the Minister to disclose whether he is aware of any other member of the executive that has undertaken any such trips on behalf of the Guptas or to advance the financial and/or other interests of the family? Can the Minister disclose if any official/s in his Ministry or the Department of Mineral Resources and/or any organ of state or state owned enterprise have undertaken any overseas trips at the behest of the Guptas and/or to advance their interests. If so, please provide details of each trip and if the cost of each trip was borne by the state or by the Guptas? If such trips were funded by the state, can the Minister please indicate if charges of fruitless and wasteful expenditure were brought against any member/s of the executive, senior state officials and/or officials of organs of state and state owned enterprises? Please provide details of each such charge, current status and/or the outcome of each charge.
Secondly, Mr Mandela asked if at any stage the Minister visited the Guptas or ever had meetings of any nature at the infamous headquarters of State Capture in Saxonwold. If this is so, he wanted to know the nature of the discussions and if the visits relate to any of the allegations raised in the State of Capture Report. The Minister needs to clarify whether in his view such alleged meetings advanced the allegations of undue influence on the head of the executive and cabinet members. He asked if the Gupta family and its associated business or business associates have done any business with the Department of Mineral Resources. If this is so, the Minister should provide details of these transactions and state if he and/or his officials benefitted directly or indirectly from such transactions. He asked the Minister to indicate for the period of investigation of the State Capture Report 2017, if he visited the Gupta residence in Saxonwold or any other such family venue for private or business purposes.
Thirdly, Mr Mandela asked the Minister to clarify his role, if any, in Tegeta Exploration and Resources - a company that is linked to the Gupta family, being named as the preferred bidder for Glencore’s Optimum Mine in an estimated R2.15 billion deal. If the Minister was in any way involved, what was the nature of his involvement and if he considers such involvement ethical and beyond reproach? He asked the Minister to advise if there are statutory provisions for compliance and disclosure by companies in the event of changes to the accounts for rehabilitation of mines registered with the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR)? What measures does the Department take when companies are in breach of this compliance? What compliance and disclosure responsibility do financial institutions have for reporting account changes to DMR?
Fourthly, Mr Mandela asked the Minister to advise if his Department is privy to the allegations that the imminent closure of the Guptas' Bank of Baroda account may put the mine rehabilitation funds - a R280 million Koornfontein fund and Optimum Colliery R1.6 billion fund - at risk? If so, what are the implications of such risk; and can the Minister advise on what action has been taken to mitigate such risk, if any. If there is any risk whatsoever, what does that entail? He asked if any or all of the allegedly corrupt actions the Minister is alleged to have taken were instructed by President Zuma. He emphatically asked if President Zuma sanctioned or approved the actions that the Minister allegedly undertook. In addition to that, did the Minister use “his official position of authority to unfairly and unduly influence a contract for any member of the President's family or anyone associated with them”?
Fifthly, Mr Mandela asked if the Minister can advise what role, if any, he or his special adviser played to assist the Gupta family in the acquisition of Optimum Coal Holdings (OCH). Can the Minister advise if he or his special advisor are directly or indirectly linked to the shareholding of this company or derive benefit from its operations? Can the Minister clarify if he had any role in convincing Glencore to sell to the Gupta family; if so, what this entailed and did the Minister derive any benefit from facilitation? If so, can he provide details?
Lastly, Mr Mandela asked the Minister to advice on what role, if any, he played in acquiring lucrative coal supply contracts from Eskom for OCH. If there was any role, he asked if the Minister was compensated for such facilitation; and if he was compensated, how much was the compensation or in what form was the compensation given? He asked if the Minister facilitated any prepayment from Eskom for the coal supply. If so, the Minister must provide details.
Mr Lorimer said that there is evidence that the Gupta family paid for the Minister’s trips and hotel rooms and that he favoured their company which is partly owned by the President’s son - this is why there is so much interest in this matter. The Minister stated that he travelled to Switzerland with his officials, so which officials did he travel with – were those officials from DMR or elsewhere in government? He asked the Minister to provide details of the discussion which facilitated the sale of the mine, and indicate which members of the Gupta family were present.
The Minister asked the Member whether Glencore or Tegeta are complaining about their interaction with the Minister and the manner in which he facilitated the deals. The last time he met with Glencore was when it was introducing its CEO. Glencore indicated at the time that they were happy about how the Minister handled everything and there were no newspaper scandals about how the deals were handled. Therefore, who is really having an issue here? It was speculated that he unfairly pushed another company away to give way to the company in question. The companies he has worked with sternly maintain their satisfaction with how the Minister handled everything and jobs were subsequently saved as a result. So why can people not focus on that, instead of focusing on speculations when something positive actually came out of the deals he facilitated?
The matters raised by Mr Schmidt are matters detailed on other platforms. He had requested that the fact that some of the matters are dealt with on other platforms will not give the Minister much room to provide detailed answers. If there was no ulterior motive to put him on trial him here or play political games, the Members should be reasonable enough to understand that these matters are sub judice.
As for the emails that were referenced, the Minister had not had an opportunity to respond to them and by whom these emails were validated. Perhaps these emails should be tested before he can be probed about the content contained in them. He asked if they have been tested sufficiently to declare that they are admissible in court. It is unfortunate that some Members think that he is captured. His history can attest that he was never captured and has never been captured by anyone.
His two advisors are present; Mr Malcolm Mabaso does not know anything about the R10 million he allegedly benefited from his facilitation of the deals. To the best of his knowledge, he does not know of anybody who has benefited from the Tegeta deal. He would be happy to entertain any proven act.
He does not own a choir. He is merely an artist and this is not something that started when he became a Minister, he has always been a gospel music artist.
He stated that his relationship with the Gupta family is at a professional level and he has not benefited from that relationship. He does not know the flight number of the plane he boarded from Dubai to South Africa.
Tegeta was the only bidder. As far as he understands, there were no other bidders, and hence Tegeta was part of the discussions and landed the deal.
The closure of the bank accounts is posing a significant risk. The truth is that everyone knows that the bank accounts are being closed to stop these people from doing business in South Africa and they will hinder this process. This is not a fair manner of doing business. The Minister heard over the news that the account is still to remain open to deal with several court applications. At this point, Tegeta is selling its asset to any company or person in South Africa, and it would be nice that this chapter is then closed and follows all the laws when it comes to the closure of the bank account. There is collusion between and amongst South African banks, and when he previously mentioned this he was harassed and asked to resign. Three months down the line and a report came out that indeed there is collusion, nobody said anything. It is important for leaders to stand for the truth. If the Members want to deal with the issue of state capture, they should be holistic. When the mines are not doing well, the DMR Minister must account. However, when banks are assisting some companies to do business and restrict other companies from doing the same business, nothing is done. This is an issue because investment needs to be increased in SA. Anybody who is not treated fairly, the Minister is going to stand up for them. If tomorrow Glencore’s bank accounts are closed, the Minister will stand up for it because it is the client. Even now that the Minister is supporting De Beers on the synthetic diamonds matter, nothing positive is being said about this.
The Minister is puzzled by the fact that he can talk to everybody to do people favours, anyone can ask Minister Lynn Brown that he is a very humble man and he does not want to involve himself in other people’s businesses. He does not have any role, he has not played any role as a Minister to influence Eskom and favour anybody in terms of the contract and he will not do so.
As for Saxonworld, he now knows where it is and if he had the money he would love to have a house there. As an ANC cadre he will not allow a situation where only a certain class or race in terms of their richness are only allowed to live in a particular place and that place is made to seem a no-go area for black South Africans. He will go to all these areas where there are people that he can engage when it comes to business and investment in South Africa. The Minister plans to go to Stellenbosch because there are people there he would love to engage with about investment in South Africa.
As for the details of the discussion held in Switzerland, the Minister stated that he is grateful for that engagement because now he knows there is a vast difference between politicians and business people. In the latter’s meetings there are no preambles and people stick to the issues – they either agree or disagree and then shake hands. He appreciated that opportunity, and he will continue to learn. The reason Mr Lorimer knows what happened in that meeting is because there was a video record of what happened there. Therefore he expects that Mr Lorimer has the details. And why are these details not coming out because they are recorded? This is because the Minister did nothing untoward. If Glencore and Tegeta complained, the Minister would ask the companies to produce the video so that the details are out in the open.
The Minister stated that he has answered the questions to the best of his ability, and requested a two minute break.
Mr Schmidt said that there is no sense in asking Mr Zwane these questions. Of course the Minister is going to deny certain allegations, and hence Members have put to him the facts that led to the allegations.
Mr Lorimer noted that the Minister said there was only one bidder to the deal. He asked who told the Minister that there was only one company. Secondly, the Minister said that the owners of Oakbay live in Switzerland, but Oakbay is registered in South Africa and has a registered business address here. Thirdly, which officials travelled with him to Switzerland and who of the Gupta family were part of the discussions in Switzerland for the sale of Optimum Coal?
The Minister responded that he was told by his officials that there was only one company and no one came forward and objected to that statement or came forward to present another bidder. The boss of Glencore does not reside in South Africa as far as he knows; Mr Ivan Glasenberg does not reside in South Africa. He told the Minister that his CEO is in South Africa, but the Minister wanted to meet with the boss himself. On as urgent a matter as this one in question, he felt that it was appropriate to deal directly with the boss. When he met with Glasenberg, he met with Mr Gupta to deal with the matter. The official that travelled with him, Mr Joel Raphelais not present.
The Chairperson said that the Committee will write to the Minister officially to engage further, but Members need to bear in mind that the availability of the Minister and the Members is crucial. It would have been nice to deal with the matters relating to the executive’s actions. In time the Committee will have to deal with the next process going forward. The Minister had stated that Members are welcome to go and conduct oversight in Vrede in the Free State.
The Committee will be advised on the decision to take moving forward, and the Committee will look into obtaining a legal opinion on this. He thanked the Members and the Minister for their presence.
The meeting was adjourned.