Mr Glasenberg, let’s get to the Glencore of the Gupta matter
The cloud of underhand dealings around Glencore’s exit from the Optimum has to be cleared
The mining industry is yet to play a role in the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture and, while the comment from Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg about participation is welcomed, it doesn’t bring the company’s involvement much closer.
It is one thing for an executive of a mining company, which had dealings with then mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane, the Gupta family and its companies, to say it will participate in the commission if called upon to do so, as Glasenberg did this week, but it’s another entirely to step forward voluntarily.
The cloud of underhand dealings around Glencore’s exit from the Optimum Colliery, which was bought by the Guptas’ Tegeta Resources with generous help from cash-strapped Eskom, has to be cleared. Former public protector Thuli Madonsela delved into the deal as far as she could in her State of Capture report, but there were a lot of questions that she simply could not answer.
What was said when Zwane and a Gupta delegation met Glasenberg in Switzerland that swayed one of the toughest, canniest dealers in the mining industry to accede to their will and release Optimum? That would be the kind of detail the commission would need to understand the levers pulled by Zwane and the Guptas, but Glencore is hardly falling over itself in wanting to provide that kind of input.
The question is why? Was there a quid pro quo, whereby Glencore got something in exchange? So, with Glasenberg, a South African by birth, saying “we would be willing to do so” if the commission called on Glencore to testify, someone should call his bluff and have some smart people interrogate the Optimum transaction and why Glencore bent to Zwane and the Guptas.