Presidency washes its hands of Nigerian oil deal

The presidency has washed its hands of the reported controversial outcome of a Nigerian oil deal supported by President Thabo Mbeki in 1999.

Earlier this year the Mail & Guardian revealed how a lucrative Nigerian crude oil contract, allocated in 1999 to “the Republic of South Africa” after lobbying by President Thabo Mbeki, was scooped by a private company registered in the Cayman Islands.

The contract was widely portrayed—not least by Deputy President Jacob Zuma and Minerals and Energy Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka—as belonging to “South Africa”. Yet neither the oil, nor the revenue, had reached the South African state or public.

The multimillion-rand annual profits from selling the Nigerian allocation go to a Cayman-registered entity named South African Oil Company. Camac, a United States-based group of companies led by prominent Nigerian-American Kase Lawal, says it holds 75% of the shares.

A local sister company by the same name, South African Oil Company, was also involved in the deal.
Its shareholders and directors include Minister of Provincial and Local Government Sydney Mufamadi’s wife and Eastern Cape Premier Makhenkesi Stofile’s brother-in-law.

Explanations offered by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) and by Camac seek to portray the deal as strictly in the private domain.

Director General in the Presidenc,y Frank Chikane, said on Thursday it was not Mbeki’s role to check whether or not the oil ended up in South Africa,

He confirmed that Mbeki supported a bid by a South African company to buy oil from Nigeria.

“What happened afterwards ... does not concern the president,” Chikane told reporters in Pretoria.

The lucrative oil contract meant for South Africa and secured with Mbeki’s help was reportedly diverted to an offshore company with no benefit for this country.

Chikane said Mbeki’s role ended with creating a climate conducive for business.  - Sapa

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