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'Brian Molefe instrumental in putting the squeeze on Glencore'

In an amaBhungane exclusive, former Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi reveals how the Guptas managed to secure the Optimum coal mine.

FILE: Eskom CEO Brian Molefe. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - New evidence has emerged about how Eskom CEO Brian Molefe helped the Guptas grab a mine and how former Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi was shafted for refusing to play along.

In an amaBhungane exclusive, Ramatlhodi reveals how the Guptas managed to secure the Optimum coal mine from Glencore in 2015 at a time when Molefe was in constant contact with the controversial family.

Molefe, who resigned as the utility's CEO last year following allegations of his connection to the Guptas in the Public Protector's State of Capture report, has now been reinstated as CEO.

From the archives: [WATCH] Brian Molefe on Guptas

AmaBhungane’s Sam Sole says Molefe played an integral part in this "forced sale".

“In the meantime, Molefe comes in as the CEO and really is instrumental in putting on the squeeze on Glencore to the extent that they eventually back down and sell the mine to the Guptas.”

Ramatlhodi says he refused to suspend all of Glenore’s South African mining licences as Molefe and Eskom chair Ben Ngubane had insisted.

Ramatlhodi says he was fired as mineral resources minister shortly after this and replaced by Mosebenzi Zwane, a known Gupta associate.

At the same time, AmaBhungane has established that Trillian, the financial advisory group owned by the Gupta's business partner Salim Essa, received almost R300 million from Eskom, supposedly for consulting work. This included a R30 million payment from Eskom on the day the Gupta consortium was due to pay for the Optimum coal mine.

According to the Public Protector's State of Capture report, Trillian contributed a staggering R235 million towards the Optimum purchase price soon after being formed, although the company has denied this.

However, it has not commented on payments received from Eskom, claiming client confidentiality.

AmaBhungane says it has pieced together claims of how the Guptas have used its network of corporate and political pawns to strong-arm Glenore into this forced sale, and siphon off millions in state-owned company contracts to pay the bill.

ANALYSIS

When President Jacob Zuma reshuffled his Cabinet, questions were asked about why he did not remove Mosebenzi Zwane who lied to the nation about a banking inquiry.

These questions are now expected to intensify.

WATCH: Zuma reacts to alleged ‘Gupta appointments’

At the same time, Zuma may have to prepare for more revelations, as Ramatlhodi’s decision to publicly confirm aspects of the Public Protector’s report may inspire other former Cabinet ministers to come forward with what they know.

This development will also put Zuma under more pressure in the African National Congress as its national executive committee prepares to meet in about two weeks’ time.

Meanwhile, the Eskom board and its chair may also have to explain their relationship with the Gupta family after Ngubane failed to act against former acting CEO Matshela Koko, despite evidence of corruption against him.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)

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