DA wants inquiry into ANC's Oilgate

Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon on Friday called for a judicial inquiry into an R11-million pre-election payment to the ruling African National Congress.

"The DA is alarmed at the allegations made in today's [Friday's] Mail & Guardian that the ANC funded its 2004 election campaign using millions of rands of taxpayers' money that was funnelled through a black empowerment enterprise with close connections to the ruling party," Leon said in a statement.

"If these allegations are true, the ANC and its leaders would be guilty of corruption on a massive scale and of undermining the electoral process of this country.

"Moreover, the entire framework of black economic empowerment [BEE] policy in South Africa has been damaged by these allegations, since they suggest a pattern in which BEE companies are used by the ANC to provide kickbacks to the ruling party."

The party is also concerned about international consequences, since BEE company Imvume has been named as one of those which allegedly benefited from corruption in the United Nations's oil-for-food programme in Iraq under the rule of Saddam Hussein.

"The DA therefore calls for an urgent judicial commission of inquiry into the ANC's 'oil-for-votes' scandal."

The M&G reported on Friday that state oil company PetroSA paid a R15-million advance to Imvume towards payment to Imvume's Swiss-based partner Glencore International for feedstock sourced for PetroSA's Mossel Bay gas-to-liquid fuels plant.

The advance was deposited by PetroSA into an account different from that usually used for payments to Imvume, and four cheques worth R11-million were then given to the ANC by Imvume's Sandi Majali in December 2003, ahead of the April 2004 elections, the M&G said.

Imvume said the donation to the ANC is "a private affair", and the ANC said that it terms of a recent court ruling it does not have to discuss donations given to it.

However, Imvume did not pay Glencore the R15-million advance and withheld about another R3-million out of approximately R100-million due to Glencore.

PetroSA subsequently paid Glencore about R18-million outstanding after threats by Glencore to withhold cargo. PetroSA said that if it did not pay, the refinery would cease operating for a minimum of 40 days at a cost of $1-million daily.

PetroSA also said that it had changed the account number at the request of Imvume and had not found any wrongdoing relating to PetroSA.

Imvume told the newspaper that an issue of commission from Glencore International remains unresolved and that it intends to honour its obligations to PetroSA for repayment.

PetroSA said it suspended liquidation proceedings against Imvume because it had a greater chance of recovering the funds owed if Imvume remained operational.—Sapa

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