Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane came under fire from the Congress of South African trade Unions (Cosatu) on Thursday, as the trade union federation labelled the minister as “weak” and demanded that he be fired.
“The Cosatu central executive committee meeting has submitted a vote of no confidence on the Minister of Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Zwane. He is a weak and a polarising figure that has failed to deal with the biggest issues such as retrenchments, illegal mining and the ongoing violence. His collusion with other unions to isolate and attack the NUM [National Union of Mineworkers] was the last straw for the CEC,” general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali told reporters in Johannesburg.
“We are calling for him to step aside or to be dismissed.”
Ntshalintshali said the mining sector was plagued by unending problems and continued to shed jobs under Zwane’s watch.
Zwane came under fire from opposition parties for stating that Cabinet had endorsed his calls for an inquiry into the country’s big four banks which had cut ties with the Gupta family businesses and shut down all Gupta bank accounts. Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe later refuted Zwane’s claims and said Cabinet never took such a decision.
Zwane’s statement was largely seen as an indication of tensions within Cabinet over the Gupta family, seen to be wielding influence on the affairs of the State, including making decisions on who gets elected into Zuma’s Cabinet.
Political parties were up in arms and demanded that President Jacob Zuma fire Zwane for misleading Parliament. Zuma told the National Assembly that he had reprimanded Zwane for his utterances, and that the minister had in turn apologised.
Zwane, a former agriculture MEC in the Free State, appointed minister by Zuma in September last year. Zwane replaced Ngwako Ramatlhodi, whom Zuma appointed Minister of Public Service and Administration. The public service portfolio had no political head following the death of minister Collins Chabane in car crash.