Damning report links Molefe to Gupta mine ‘hijack’

A new report by investigative group, amaBhungane, brings to light new allegations of how Eskom CEO Brian Molefe is believed to have helped the Gupta family buy the Optimum Coal mine operation from Glencore.

Former mining minister, Ngoako Ramatlhodi has made damning allegations against Molefe, Eskom chair Ben Ngubane and president Jacob Zuma, telling amaBhungane that he was fired from the department when he would not go along with a plan to blackmail former Optimum owners, Glencore.

According to the report, Ramatlhodi claimed that when he was still mining minister, he attended a meeting with Molefe and Ngubane, where they demanded that he suspend all Glencore’s mining licences in South Africa, pending the payment of a R2.17 billion penalty.

The penalty came as a result of apparently sub-standard coal being supplied by Optimum, and stuck when Molefe refused to renegotiate a long-term supply contract with Glencore.

Glencore was forced to put Optimum into business rescue as a result. It was also during this time that the Gupta family, through its mining group Tegeta, were vying for Optimum.

According to amaBhungane, a suspension of all of Glencore’s licenses would have brought Glencore’s 14 coal operations to a standstill and risked the jobs of its 35,000 employees in South Africa.

At the time, Glencore supplied roughly 14% of Eskom’s coal needs, including virtually all of the coal for the Hendrina power station.

Ramatlhodi told amaBhungane that Molefe and Ngubane were insistent that Glencore’s operations be shut down, but the former minister refused.

Ngubane then said he would have to report the meeting to president Zuma.

On 22 September 2015, Zuma announced that Mosebenzi Zwane, a Free State politician linked to the Guptas, would replace Ramatlhodi.

Ramatlhodi was moved to the public service and administration department, but recently lost his job as a minister along with former finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas.

Previously, it was found that Eskom had supplied the Gupta family with hundreds of millions of rands in forward payments for coal, which was used by the family to buy Optimum from Glencore.

Eskom has denied Ramatlhodi’s allegations, while Glencore and the Gupta family did not respond to amaBhungane’s requests fro comment.

You can read the rest of the in-depth report on amaBhungane’s website.

For more on the Eskom-Gupta links you can read:

Read: Watch: Molefe dances as Eskom employees welcome him back to work

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Damning report links Molefe to Gupta mine ‘hijack’