Donen ‘clears Motlanthe, Sexwale’

2011-12-07 15:17

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale have been cleared of alleged wrongdoing in connection with the Iraq Oil for Food Programme, the Presidency said today.

According to the findings of the Donen Commission, which was established by former President Thabo Mbeki in 2006, both Sexwale and Motlanthe have been “exonerated”.

The long-awaited report, which Mbeki had refused to release to the public, was released today by President Jacob Zuma.

According to Zuma’s spokesperson, Mac Maharaj, the report clears many “misconceptions” that certain individuals broke the law in return for oil concessions, allegations which had “impugned the character and dignity of several persons”.

The commission, headed by Advocate Michael Donen, SC, found that Sexwale, Motlanthe and then director-general of the Department of Minerals and Energy, Advocate Sandile Nogxina, “were not the subjects of the Commission’s investigation”.

The commission also probed a transaction for 10 million barrels to Mocoh Services South Africa (Pty) Ltd, a company in which Sexwale was involved with trader Michael Hacking.

“The report states that the late Mr Sandile Majali had undertaken to pay the surcharge to the Iraqi authorities, contrary to the UN programme; that it seemed he had only made partial surcharge payments and that again there was no evidence that he had acted contrary to any South African laws,” said the Presidency.

Maharaj said that Zuma hoped that the release of the report would end the “gossip, speculation, misconceptions and misperceptions”, adding that the report was released in the light of a court application by Independent Newspapers to have it released to the public.

“We reiterate that President Zuma has decided to release the report despite the potential for misuse of the contents, as he is of the view that the public interest will be served by the public release of the report,” said Maharaj.

Mbeki had given the commission wide-ranging powers including making recommendations about what steps are to be taken against any individual found to have contravened international law and South African laws.

The commission had used another report compiled by the UN’s Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) into abuses of the UN oil-for-food programme as the basis of its investigation.

But Donen slated the ICC report – which carried a disclaimer over the methodology used by the IIC and the lack of response from the South African companies and individuals alleged to be involved – for publishing “unambiguous innuendo directed against the (then ANC) Secretary General (Motlanthe) and by inference the government of South Africa”.

“This gratuitous attack via the text of the IIC report ... was regarded by the Commission as a matter of public concern”, the Commission found.

“The Commission rejected the proposition that South Africa was a political beneficiary of Iraq’s surcharge and kickback policy,” added the Commission.

Maharaj said that Donen also found that “the leaked versions of the Commission report first published in the media on 23 August 2009, had created misconceptions about the true content of the Commission reports”.

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