'I'm a river,' says Zwane on being labelled a Gupta-stooge

Mosebenzi Zwane, Minister of Minerals and Energy Resources.
Mosebenzi Zwane, Minister of Minerals and Energy Resources.
Image: Freddy Mavunda/Business Day

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has described himself as a river that dilutes insults.

Zwane, recently gave a poetic answer when questioned about the criticism he has received from the public, especially the black middle class, on his alleged involvement with the controversial Gupta family.

Zwane is said to be at the centre of Hawks and Asset Forfeiture Unit's investigation into alleged corruption amounting to over R220-million that took place when he was the MEC for Agriculture in the Free State.

During an interview with eNCA, journalist Samkelo Maseko asked Zwane to respond to claims by some that he was a stooge and a minion for the Gupta family, to which he said: "I'm a river, all their abuses and insults can only be venomous before they reach my waters in my coolest. Once they reach my waters, they [are] turned into a juice."

"I'm not worried about what people say in their Twitter but I know the truth. I'm strong, focused on the job at hand. I will not go out and ask people to love or hate me that is their choice, but I'm a river," he said.

Zwane went on to say that he welcomes and will avail himself to the Hawks and the AFU during their investigation into the Vrede Dairy Farm.

"We welcome what is happening in the country with the investigation by Hawks and everybody, we support that process. We will cooperate if we may be wanted in this process," he said.

Zwane also said that he played an oversight role during his tenure as the MEC.

"As a politician I always play oversight. As to the nitty-gritties of what happens on daily basis in the department there are people who are employed specially to deal with that. Any wrongdoing, if it's proven, it must be dealt with," said Zwane who also said that people are innocent until proven otherwise.

"I'm one of the people who supported ANC way back in 1991 to fight corruption amongst others. I'm one of the people who endorsed all the policies now in Nasrec including the fighting of corruption.

"I'm also one of the people who support the notion that people are innocent until proven guilty by court of laws. We must begin to say, remind you as media, that nobody is guilty up until found guilty by a court of law."

The frontline trooper

ANC North West chairperson and premier Supra Mahumapelo also came to the defense of both  Zwane and ANC secretary general and Free State premier Ace Magashule who is also fingered in the Vrede Dairy Farm controversy.

Describing Zwane as a "frontline trooper" at a recent event, Magashule said that people are using the ANC to settle political scores with him.

The two were in Swartklip for the official handover of Union Platinum mine from Anglo Platinum to Siyanda Bakgatla.

Introducing Zwane who was the keynote speaker for the night, Mahumapelo had this to say:

"I thought my comrade, Comrade Mosebenzi Zwane, I must level that particular matter, clarify it, so that when you stand up and speak here some questions must not be lingering in other people's mind, they must know that you are a frontline trooper, you remain undeterred, you remain focused on the strategic objective of making sure that we push the agenda of dealing with poverty, inequality and unemployment," said Mahumapelo.

He also said that Magashule should keep his focus on the his job as the secretary general of the ANC.

"Ace Magashule must remain focused on the job... remain humble, do his work on a daily basis. The law must take its course."

"If anyone of us, irrespective of the positions we hold in the organisation, in government, in the society, if competent authorities in terms of the rule of law in South Africa find any of us guilty we must abide by those particular decisions, but never cross bridges before you come to them."