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Formal inquiry into DMR on cards after Zwane ducks and dives again

Feb 21 2018 11:38
Paul Herman

Cape Town - The portfolio committee on mineral resources has agreed to pursue a formal inquiry into the Department of Mineral Resources, after Minister Mosebenzi Zwane failed to appear for a meeting on Wednesday.

Zwane - one of the ministers implicated in the former Public Protector's State of Capture report and the #GuptaLeaks - was due in Parliament at 09:00 to answer questions on the state capture allegations.

But at 09:30, he was "nowhere to be seen", committee chairperson Sahlulele Luzipo remarked.

Luzipo then told the committee they had received two letters from Zwane's department on Monday.

The first said that Zwane would not be able to appear on Wednesday because the minister would be answering questions in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). He asked if he could appear next week instead.

Luzipo wrote back to the minister:

"I hereby acknowledge receipt of your letter. Kindly note that the committee wrote to you to hold this meeting on February 14, and you indicated you were writing exams.

"The February 21 date was proposed by you. It was meant to be high priority after many postponements."

He also found that there was no plenary scheduled in the NCOP.

Fourth postponement

Subsequently, they received another letter from Zwane's department acknowledging Luzipo's reply.

"It is with great regret that Mr Zwane won't be able to appear on the set date. The reason being is that the minister will be attending the select committee on petitions and thereafter the special Cabinet meeting."

MPs could be seen smiling to themselves as Luzipo read.

It was the fourth postponement since November for various reasons, Luzipo explained.

On November 1, the minister had excused himself as sick. On January 24, Parliament had postponed all committee sittings. On February 14, the minister said he was writing exams.

"Now it's the 21st, and he is giving us the date for next week," Luzipo said.

'Unacceptable'

Democratic Alliance MP James Lorimer said it was unacceptable that Zwane has only appeared to answer one round of questions.

African National Congress MP Simphiwe Mthimunye said the ball was no longer in their court and they should take the next step.

Economic Freedom Fighters MP Thembinkosi Rawula said the committee had given him enough time to appear.

There was no truth in his excuses either, DA MP Hendrik Schmidt added.

Lorimer requested a fully-fledged inquiry into the department, similar to the one conducted by the portfolio committee on public enterprises.

After a 30-minute debate, the committee resolved to skip summoning Zwane and proceed straight to an inquiry.

Luzipo agreed they had exhausted all options.

They will meet on Tuesday next to discuss the logistics of holding a formal inquiry.

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