Those who are responsible for the "illegal" sale of South Africa's strategic fuel stockpile must be held to account, the new energy minister has said.
For the first time, government has admitted that the deal was a sale and not a "rotation of stock" as former energy minister Tina Joematt-Petterson had claimed.
New #Energy Min. Kubayi apologises to Parly Committee it was mislead over sale of Strategic Fuel Stocks. Fmr Minster denied sale.— Lester Kiewit (@lesterkk) May 2, 2017
According to Business Day, new Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi told Parliament on Tuesday that the disposal of 10,3 million barrels of oil reserves by the Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF) would be investigated.
She reportedly apologised to MPs and Parliament for the face that they had been misled about the nature of the deal.
Min. Kubayi says they're working around the clock to replenish millions of crude oil reserves sold in 2015. #SabcNews— rhulani baloyi (@rhulani1baloyi) May 3, 2017
According to the paper, the oil stockpile was sold at a substantial discount, to three invited buyers.
The auditor-general later said the sale was illegal because it had not been approved by Treasury.
Kubayi told Parliament she had instructed the board of the Central Energy Fund, which is the parent company of the SFF, to look into legal ways to take action against whomever was responsible for the sale.
In May 2016, Business Day revealed that South Africa had sold close to its entire stockpile, amounting to about 10 million barrels of crude oil.
At the time, the DA promised to pursue legal action against those implicated. Fin24.com reported that the party was concerned that the sale was related to the ANC's election funding needs.
Pieter van Dalen, DA MP on energy said at athe time:
"Even more problematic is the glaring evidence that this sale was done so rapidly and without any consideration of Treasury in order to benefit the coffers of the ANC (African National Congress) ahead of the local government elections," he said, referring to concerns that one of the buyers was an ANC-linked investment arm.
But SFF director Tseliso Maqubela said at the time that it was not a sale.
The condition of the sale was that the oil (will) not be exported and so the government considered it to be part of its strategic reserve stockpile," he reportedly said.
According to Eye Witness News, Kubayi told Parliament this week:
"It was not a rotation of stock, it was a sale of stock. That I can confirm as per the report."
Daily Maverick reported last year that the buyers were Nigerian-owned oil company the Taleveras Group, Vitol, reportedly "friends" of Thebe Investment Corporation in which the ANC has a controlling 47% stake, according to the publication, and Glencore.