FORMER mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane made sure the Optimum Coal Mine project was run from his office.
This is according to the department’s former director-general, Thibedi Ramontja, who testified at Zondo Commission yesterday.
“I was marginalised.
“I had to speak to the minister through his advisors.
“The work environment changed after Zwane took over at the ministry,” said Ramontja.
In 2015 Optimum was in a bad financial situation and unable to supply coal to Eskom.
However, its parent company Glencore assisted.
Ramontja said when Zwane went to Switzerland to meet Glencore about the sale of Optimum, he was not given details.
He said later he received a letter from acting Eskom CEO Matshela Koko, asking the department to intervene at Optimum because the country was in danger of load shedding.
Ramontja said in the letter Koko didn’t mention that the Gupta-linked company Tegeta intended to buy Optimum.
Ramontja, who had been with the department for 19 years, said at that point, he informed Zwane he intended to leave.
He said he was shocked when he was called to the minister’s office on 10 December 2015 and ordered to write a resignation letter in 20 minutes.
He said the order was given to him by one of Zwane’s advisors, Malcolm Mabaso.
“With this inquiry, you start to think that some people were favoured.
“I now think the Guptas were being helped,” said Ramontja.
Former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene was later called to finish the testimony he started last year.
He denied being involved in dubious dealings and asked the EFF, which made the allegations, to provide proof.
Earlier, commission chairman deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo granted former finance minister Des van Rooyen leave to cross examine former Treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile.