DA takes oil scandal to Madonsela
Johannesburg - The DA will ask Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to investigate the involvement of South African companies or individuals in the "oil for food" scandal, its leader Helen Zille said on Wednesday.
"The question is why did it take the presidency five years and a legal tug of war with Independent Newspapers to release a report in which no former or current member of government is implicated?" she asked, referring to the Donen Commission report.
The report into allegations of illicit activities in the United Nations' Iraq oil-for-food programme found that no one whose name featured in the investigation had contravened any South African law.
"It has to be stressed that the Donen report does not make any definitive final findings in respect of the conduct of the named individuals in so far as the impact of such conduct on [United Nations] resolutions and policy is concerned," presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said on Wednesday.
President Jacob Zuma released the report earlier in the day.
The commission was established on February 17 2006 by then president Thabo Mbeki to investigate alleged illicit activities by certain South African companies or individuals relating to the UN programme.
Maharaj said Mbeki had refused the commission's last request for extra time and the commission consequently handed in its final report in September 2006.
Interim reports were submitted in May and June that year.
"Former president Mbeki decided against releasing the report pending the advice from the chief state law adviser and due to its incompleteness among other reasons."
Maharaj said it was important to note that all those caught up in the subject matter of the inquiry were not the subjects of the commission’s investigation.
They also did not have an opportunity to present their version of events fully.
"In addition, much of the commission’s collection of information did not involve evidence on oath with the test of cross-examination being applied," he said.
Released with the three-part report was a letter written by the chairperson, advocate Michael Donen SC, to the then director general in the presidency, dated August 28 2009.
"He wrote it because he 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," Maharaj said.
"These misconceptions severely impugned the character and dignity of several persons."
Law not contravened
The commission found that no one whose name featured in their investigation had contravened any South African law.
Donen’s letter explicitly stated that the three people "named" by the media - Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, and the DG of the minerals and energy department Sandile Nogxina - were not the subjects of the commission’s investigation.
Motlanthe, who was at the time the secretary general of the ANC, had intervened with the authorities in Iraq to ensure that they adhered to the decisions and rules determined by the UN programme.
Donen said Nogxina had "made a valuable contribution to the commission’s work", that "no blame could be attached to the DG", and that "his personal involvement as a participant in illicit activities was so remote as to not even warrant any consideration of his culpability or otherwise".
Regarding Sexwale, the commission "exonerated Mr Sexwale from liability as a participant in illicit activities".
"The comments made in the report are not to be elevated to findings of fact. These were interim and untried comments as the report recognises. They must be treated as such," Maharaj said.
The report proposed actions or steps to be taken to prevent companies or persons falling under South African jurisdiction from becoming involved in future illegal or irregular international activities, including sanctions-busting in respect of internationally imposed sanctions.
Zuma has asked Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe to review the documentation and consider passing the relevant legislation and amend existing legislation to rectify any shortcomings in domestic law, Maharaj said.