AmaBhungani has revealed new evidence that Eskom CEO Brian Molefe and chair Ben Ngubane allegedly demanded that former Mining Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi shutdown all Glencore’s mining operations in South Africa, pending the payment of a R2.17-billion penalty, effectively blackmailing the mining giant.
The report explains in detail how weeks before his axing, Ramatlhodi was called into a meeting with the Eksom duo at the time the Gupta family were looking at buying Optimum, the coal mine that supplies Eskom’s Hendrina power station.
In an interview with amaBhungane, Ramatlhodi says : "They insisted that I must suspend all the Glencore mining licences pending the payment of the R2-billion… You must remember that the country was undergoing load-shedding at that time. I said to them: how many mines do these people have supplying Eskom? How many more outages are we going to have?"
Ramatlhodi says he refused to shut the mines when Ngubane said that he would have to report on their meeting to President Jacob Zuma.
On September 2, 2015, Zuma arrived in China for a commemoration of victory over the Nazis in World War II. There he was due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Ramatlhodi said he was removed as mines minister shortly after Zuma’s return.
According to amaBhungane journalist Sam Sole, the fresh allegations add to mounting suggestions that the Guptas’ R2-billion buyout of Optimum should rank among South Africa’s most audacious business hijackings.
We forget that a lot of what was in the public protector's report was about this battle of the Gupta's to gain control of the Optimum coal mine and what we did was look at Brian Molefe and Ben Ngubani's role on that battle an dhow the effectively paved the way for the Gupta's to take over by helping to squeeze the big company that owned Optimum at that time, Glencore.— Sam Sole, Managing partner and investigative journalist at amaBhungane
We phoned up Ramatlhodi who was the mine's minister at the time because there was some very strategic decisions that happened around that particular time in this battle and Ramatlhodi was the minster, and then sort of three weeks after a particular point had been reached he was fired.— Sam Sole, Managing partner and investigative journalist at amaBhungane
He didn't comply. He said he stood firm.— Sam Sole, Managing partner and investigative journalist at amaBhungane
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