The decision by the Energy Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi, to suspend the entire Central Energy Fund (CEF) board, including the acting CEO and CFO, is highly confusing and may be nothing more than a smoke screen.
It is confusing in the sense that the current CEF board became aware of the sale only in May 2016 and the CEF Chairperson and the two other board members, Mosimaneotsile Besnaar and Mr. Neville Mompati, were only appointed in December 2016, well after the issues of the sale which occurred in December 2015.
Removing a new chairperson who is actively trying to clean up the fund and PetroSA is also highly suspicious. The firing of these board members is highly irregular and seems politically motivated – it has nothing to do with the board’s performance.
What the Minister has done is a significant U-turn from two months ago and her opinion is based on an audit report she presented to the Portfolio Committee on Energy that said the CEF board was not complicit in the secret sale of 10.3 million barrels of the country’s strategic oil reserves at alarmingly low prices. Minister Kubayi has admitted that this was not ‘a rotation of stock’ as former Energy Minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, had claimed.
The Department of Energy has now appointed a law firm to investigate all contracts at the Strategic Fuel Fund after a whistle blower indicated in a letter that 300 000 barrels of oil were loaned out to a private entity without proper procurement processes.
The DA will therefore urgently write to the Minister to request that she table the findings of these investigations, in Parliament.
Should the investigation reveal any corrupt activities, those people must face the full might of the law. We can no longer afford for our state institutions to be bled dry while the perpetrators of looting get off scot-free.