Mosebenzi Zwane to 'voluntarily step aside, face ANC integrity commission'

Former minister Mosebenzi Zwane in the dock at the Bloemfontein magistrate's court, where he and two others are facing fraud and corruption charges relating to the Vrede dairy farm.
Former minister Mosebenzi Zwane in the dock at the Bloemfontein magistrate's court, where he and two others are facing fraud and corruption charges relating to the Vrede dairy farm.
Image: Alaister Russell

ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina has indicated that former mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane will voluntarily step aside from his positions.

In a short statement on Wednesday evening, Majodina’s office said Zwane has agreed to present himself to the ANC integrity commission, adding that he will communicate with ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile’s office about voluntarily stepping aside.

Zwane confirmed to TimesLIVE that he has contacted the party about his matter.

“It is correct that I have already contacted the ANC for the meeting for tomorrow and I will take it from there,” he said in a text message, responding to a question on whether he will step aside and whether he will be presenting himself to the integrity commission.

He wouldn't elaborate on who exactly he was meeting in the ANC, only saying he can give full details after the meeting.

Zwane is an ANC MP and chairs the National Assembly’s portfolio committee on transport.

ANC members who have “stepped aside” keep their parliamentary seats and enjoy all the perks of being an MP but they do not participate in parliamentary meetings and other proceedings, except for voting in the house.

Zwane handed himself over to the police on Wednesday and later appeared in the Bloemfontein magistrate's court where he was charged  with fraud and corruption in a case related to the Vrede dairy farm scandal.

He was released on R10,000 bail.

“We have been informed by the MP that he was arrested and charged,” said Majodina in her statement. “The office of the chief whip notes that there are organisational processes that will unfold and has agreed with Cde Zwane that he will present himself to the ANC integrity commission and communicate with the office of the treasurer-general to voluntarily follow the ANC step-aside procedure in line with ANC national conference resolution.”

Majodina said: “As the ANC caucus, we will continue to monitor the situation and will not comment further on the charges against Cde Zwane as we want to allow the law to take its course.”

The ANC’s “step-aside” policy requires members charged with serious crimes to recuse themselves within 30 days or be forcefully removed.

The controversial Vrede dairy farm project in which public funds meant for black emerging farmers were allegedly looted was undertaken by the Free State department of agriculture about a decade ago.

Zwane was the Free State agriculture MEC when the project was undertaken.

TimesLIVE reported earlier on Wednesday that in his bail statement, Zwane said through his legal representative Lebohang Mokhele he intended pleading not guilty and had handed himself over to law enforcement agencies.

Mokhele said Zwane has no previous convictions or pending cases against him.

Prosecutor Peter Serunye read into the record an affidavit by investigating officer Mandla Mtolo, in which he said the matter involves more than 10 accused and is a schedule 5 offence.

Bail was not opposed by the state, said Mtolo, as there was no evidence indicating the accused may flee or interfere with witnesses.

The matter will return to court on November 2.




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