DA takes oil scandal to Madonsela

2011-12-08 07:23

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.

  • Larry - 2011-12-08 07:42

    Something is very fishy here. Why keep a report secret for so long, if there was nothing in it in the first place? Although it was incomplete when handed over to Mbeki, I have a feeling that it has been made even more incomplete, in the form that it was released?

      Hunter - 2011-12-08 09:21

      Yes Larry, its probably full of tippex lines...

  • Phumezo - 2011-12-08 07:51

    The question that should be asked is how is this going to advance the lives of the poor and the marginalised? To me it is just another attempt to score cheap political points by the DA! If the office of the Public Protector is starting to be turned into another Jessica Fletcher series by the opposition instead of promoting good governance then we might as well pull a plug on it come Mangaung next year! Danon made it clear in his report that there was not any wrong doing by those accused by the opposition in this oil-gate scandal what more do they want? Or are they doubting the credibility and independence of Denon?

      Tyron - 2011-12-08 08:02

      I agree! There are more pressing matters, and if the DA continues to flood the Public Protector with every complaint they have, it will weaken the system and not allow her to continue doing excellent work as evidenced so far. Let this one go DA, not worth it. Leave it to MG!!

      Rebel_without_a_cause - 2011-12-08 08:41

      Transparency and accountability in the government benefits the whole population, including the poor and marginalised. Governments without accountability and credibility gets ousted. The DA can only work via the legal structures to fight for accountability and transparency. The fact that there are so much dirt being exposed is turning the Public Protector into the soapie. Would you prefer to rather have everything swept under the carpet?

      Tyron - 2011-12-08 09:47

      No Rebel!! Nobody is saying sweep stuff under the carpet, but hammering on this issue is a waste of the PPs time, resources, etc. They may be questions to be answered there is far more corruption to expose than this issue. It was a report commissioned by Thabo and the findings are bland, no recommendations for action etc. The PP needs to be looking into local government mismanagement, dodgy tenders and leases, current people in power deployed because u are someone's mate!

      Peter - 2011-12-08 11:44

      Absolutely!! The horses have bolted out of the stable. What is the point of finding out who left the door open, or why the hinges fell off? Mend the door and put a guard on it. Then go catch the horses and put them back in the stable. NOW!!!! Then make sure that they cannot escape again. There are corrupt activities right now, they are being perpetrated right now! Why on earth burden the PP with stuff that happened when Paul Kruger was farming in Rustenburg?

      Rebel_without_a_cause - 2011-12-08 12:21

      @Tyron Being selective on the type of corruption to expose is condoning the corruption you regard as a waste of time. We need to stand together in the fight against criminality and corruption in all the manners it presents itself. The theft of a single pencil or the theft of a million rand is still theft.

  • Dave - 2011-12-08 07:55

    Just a case of this whole saga being sanitised over the last 5 years to protect Zuma, Maharaj, and all the other ANC thieves. That is why the ANC are so determined to push through the "Protection of Idiots" Bill so that the corruption and thieving of the ANC elite can continue.

  • Samuel - 2011-12-08 08:27

    Even if they find something wrong it will be ignored by the ruling party,they are the liberators of the masses and can act with impunity until kingdom come because you can rant, shout ,take umbrage,have commission after commission all arranged by the anc,and nothing will change except the worlds perception of south africa.This is just going to cost a fortune that greedy people,like all the cadres are going to pocket.The general person on the street has the sabc and government pr to let them know everything is hunky dory even if food has quadrupled in price since the liberation,the masses will vote anc until jesus comes just as zuma predicted,so what is the use,we must encourage our children to emigrate and have a better life seeing it can only get worse.

  • Rebel_without_a_cause - 2011-12-08 08:34

    Future South Africa under the secrecy act. Convene a commission to investigate some questionable action. Allocate billions of rand to this investigation. The commission writes some crappy report. The report gets classified. The billions was filtered elegantly into the target pockets with no accountability to the public. Five years and a massive fight even without the secrecy law. Imagine the post apocalyptic South Africa under the secrecy law. The future is very dark (classified and declared a state secret).

  • dialoque - 2011-12-08 08:52

    Hell and Zille is very bored... dont you have better things to do... like focusing on ZA than the ANC...

  • Tlakola Lepara MP - 2011-12-08 09:09

    Slow down DA, how did the companies misuse public funds?

  • Never-apologize - 2011-12-08 09:57

    the basis for the DA's call for the PP to investigate is nosensical, firstly, it is because the presidency took 5 years to release the report and Secondly, that it was due to the Independent Newspapers threats. Now, the question to the DA is, do you in your sober minds (if any) have anything regarding the content of the report which you was the PP to investigate further, save for the fishing exercise regarding individualls and Companies who were involved? probably the answer is NO, since the Commission had already done that.

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