PRETORIA– South African Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana has refuted media reports on bribery allegations against him.

According to a City Press article published on Sunday, former President Jacob Zuma accepted a one million Rand (about 86,000 US dollars) bribe to keep Zokwana in his role in order to prioritise abalone processing and fishing permits for certain companies in Western Cape Province.

The Minister has also denied that he was involved in any unlawful conduct in relation to the awarding of contracts for processing and sale of confiscated abalone or any plan to raise money for the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), through the department.

On 24 November 2017, the Western Cape High Court ordered that the contract concluded between the Department and Willjarro (Pty) Ltd for the processing, marketing and selling of confiscated abalone was unlawful and should accordingly be set aside. The allegations against the Minister contained in the article were made by Chaile Seretse, the Chief Operating Officer of Willjarro,” the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said in a statement issued here Monday.

The Minister welcomes the investigation by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) into all the allegations contained in the article, and is confident that the investigation will establish that the allegations made against him are unfounded, false and defamatory.”

Investigations into the employees of the department, who appear to be implicated in the awarding of the unlawful contract, are still ongoing.