Mosebenzi Zwane. Picture: AFP PHOTO/RODGER BOSCH
Mosebenzi Zwane. Picture: AFP PHOTO/RODGER BOSCH

MINERAL Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane displayed arrogance in Parliament and defied President Jacob Zuma in the way he responded to questions concerning his call for a judicial inquiry into banks, says the ANC.

Zuma is under pressure to rein in the minister, and the ANC and allies the South African Communist Party (SACP) and labour federation Cosatu have called for action against him.

Zwane also came under fire on Wednesday in Parliament, where he again stated the need for a judicial commission of inquiry into the banks that terminated their relationships with the Gupta family.

A senior ANC leader, who asked not to be named, described Zwane’s conduct as an embarrassment and said the party would "deal with him" internally.

ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa said on Thursday that Zwane should have taken the nation into his confidence.

"What we saw … was an arrogant Cabinet minister, and that is the kind of arrogance, unfortunately, we are accused of in the ANC," Kodwa said. "It was his opportunity to explain, but he says, ‘No, it is a Cabinet issue’, when he made a public statement about it [banking inquiry]."

During his appearance in Parliament, Zwane had insisted it was necessary to set up a judicial commission of inquiry, and that the president would decide on this.

This is despite the Presidency having issued a statement on Friday in which it said Zwane was speaking in "his personal capacity" when he announced in a statement that the Cabinet would ask Zuma to set up an inquiry.

In Parliament, opposition parties repeatedly asked Zwane why he had issued the statement when there was no Cabinet decision on an inquiry. He failed to answer.

Sources in the ANC and the alliance said Zwane and a group of ministers had held a "factional caucus" before last week’s Cabinet meeting and agreed to push his position in the executive meeting.

However, Zwane did not attend the meeting, but had "thought the resolution would have gone through".

He then issued his statement on Thursday, before the Cabinet had issued one.

However, there is scepticism among party insiders about whether Zuma will act against Zwane, as he has allowed ministers aligned to him off the hook for similar behaviour in the past.

ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize on Tuesday said he was glad the Cabinet had denounced Zwane’s statement on the inquiry.

Kodwa said Zwane’s statement undermined the Constitution as the independence of the Reserve Bank was guaranteed in it.

"As a party, such reckless statements did not even emanate from discussions within the party … even if there was such a decision, he would not be the relevant person to make that announcement."

It is unclear whether the matter was even raised in the Cabinet meeting as it was not mentioned in the statement on the outcomes of the executive’s meeting.