ANC not in diamond business: Mthembu

By Drum Digital
28 March 2013

The ANC is not in the diamond business and does not know why South African troops were sent to the Central African Republic (CAR), the party said on Thursday morning.

"We are not in the business of business; we are in business of politics, and our business of politics has been done in South Africa," spokesman Jackson Mthembu said.

"We are not in the business of diamonds, we are in the business of politics."

Mthembu was responding to an article in the Mail & Guardian, according to which the South African military's involvement in the CAR had been entwined with ANC-linked deals.

It reported that Didier Pereira, a special adviser to ousted CAR president Francois Bozize, partnered with "ANC hard man" Joshua Nxumalo and the ANC's funding arm, Chancellor House, to secure a diamond export monopoly from in the CAR.

In 2006 Pereira signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the CAR mining ministry. It was intended to create a public-private partnership, Inala Centrafrique. A South African company, Serengeti Group, which was majority-owned by Nxumalo, had a 65 percent stake in it.

Inala's attempts to control diamond mining in the CAR failed by March 2008, the M&G said.

Mthembu said the ANC was not a signatory to the MOU.

"This matter started in 2006... To my knowledge, the ANC is not a signatory," he said.

"Secondly the ANC has no interest in the CAR... We don't know what was uploaded in the MOU. The ANC cannot comment on why troops were deployed to the CAR, only government can comment on that."

He said the MOU was signed long before Jacob Zuma became president.

"That was under comrade Thabo Mbeki's time. We think people who can explain why our troops were there [in the CAR] is our government and the SA National Defence Force."

Mthembu said the ANC did not get involved in government matters.

"We don't interfere on issues of government. As the ANC we have no business interests. It is very disingenuous for the ANC's name to be dragged [into this]."

Last weekend, 13 SANDF soldiers were killed and 27 wounded in the CAR during an attack by rebels.

Bozize came to power in 2003 when he toppled his predecessor, Ange-Felix Patasse, in a coup.

-by Sapa

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