DA to press Zuma on Iraq oil-deal commission

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will ask President Jacob Zuma to reconstitute a commission on the role senior government officials played in oil deals with Iraq, a party leader said on Monday.

DA parliamentary leader Athol Trollip said he would put in the request when he and the leaders of several other opposition parties meet Zuma later this week.

“One of the key issues the Democratic Alliance will be asking the president to address is the Donen Commission and the findings it makes in its report,” Trollip said.

A weekend newspaper reported that the Donen Commission, set up by former president Thabo Mbeki, found that Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe — ANC secretary general at the time — was privy to material information related to money paid illicitly to the Iraqi regime.

According to the report in the Sunday Times, the commission also cast doubt on a submission by businessman Tokyo Sexwale, now human settlements minister, that he did not know that a company of which he was co-director had paid money to Saddam Hussein’s government — in violation of the United Nations’s oil-for-food programme.


It is estimated that late Iraqi dictator Hussein’s regime made $1,8-billion in surcharges and kickbacks on such deals.

At issue are surcharges on oil-for-food deals the regime demanded be paid into Iraqi government bank accounts, in violation of stipulations that all oil sales revenue go to a UN-supervised account to be used for humanitarian purposes only.

South African businessman Sandile Majali, the chief executive of Mocoh and Imvume, was among those believed to have channelled money to the regime.

Sexwale is a former co-director of Mocoh and reportedly told the commission he did not know the company was told to pay surcharges on oil deals with Iraq.

The newspaper reported the Donen Commission expressed reservations about his version.

According to the Sunday Times, Mbeki kept the report under wraps and Motlanthe, during his brief stint as president, also resisted calls to release it.

Zuma had ignored similar requests, the report read.

Trollip said he would ask Zuma what action he was going to take on the report.

“As president all three people implicated report directly to him and he is responsible for holding them to account,” Trollip said.

Trollip said the DA would submit formal parliamentary questions to Zuma on all of these issues. — Sapa

Oilgate: A timeline
1990
Iraq invades Kuwait. UN Security Council imposes comprehensive sanctions on Iraq, including lifeblood oil exports

1995
UN approves Oil for Food (OFF) programme to relieve civilian hardship — Iraq allowed to sell oil, with proceeds held in trust by UN and released only for approved humanitarian imports

1996
OFF starts. Over seven years, $64-billion of Iraqi crude traded

Timeline

See the infographic

2000
Dec 18-23: Montega Trading (Sandi Majali, Rodney Hemphill and Shakir Alkhafaji) visit Iraq with ANC secretary general Kgalema Motlanthe and treasurer general Mendi Msimang. Montega signs contract to buy 2m barrels of Basrah Light crude oil under OFF

2001
Feb 1: Minerals and Energy DG Sandile Nogxina leads official delegation to Iraq to build relations under OFF

Feb 2: Montega Trading cargo loaded in Iraq. Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organisation (Somo) levies $464 632 “surcharge” on Montega, a kickback illegal under OFF. Montega does not pay

Apr 5: Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF) confirms to Majali its interest in buying 9,5m barrels of Iraqi Basrah Light crude from Montega

May 11/12: Imvume Management registered and directors, including Majali, appointed

Jul 30:
Majali offers 6m barrels of Basrah to SFF; alternatively to facilitate direct deal between Iraq and SFF

Sep 5: Imvume obtains UN approval to trade with Iraq

Sep 7: Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, then minerals and energy minister, approves travel to Iraq by her DG, Sandile Nogxina, and chief of staff, Ayanda Nkuhlu, to create “right political atmosphere” for SA companies to win business under OFF

Sep 10: Motlanthe writes letter to Iraq endorsing Majali. Msimang also writes

Sep 11-18: Majali, Nkuhlu, Nogxina and SFF director Riaz Jawoodeen, visit Iraq. Majali has proposal for Iraq to allocate 25m barrels of Basrah Light to Imvume each year for 10 years, with ANC a beneficiary. Iraq is asked for sale of “initial” 12m barrels to Imvume to supply SFF

Mid-Oct: Ba’ath party delegation visits SA. Protocol signed between Majali and Iraqi counterpart establishing Iraqi-SA Friendship Association. Speech prepared for Motlanthe says ANC and Ba’ath are true parties behind friendship association, and that ANC is behind the proposal requesting allocation of 25m barrels of crude annually

Nov 9-17: Majali and Motlanthe visit Middle East. Timing consistent with anti-sanctions conference in Baghdad, which Majali said they would attend

Dec 5: SFF issues tender for supply of 4m barrels of Iraqi Basrah Light. SFF director Jawoodeen central to tender adjudication. Imvume wins

2002
Mar 6: SFF and Imvume sign contract: latter to supply initial 2m barrels of Basrah. Majali is in Baghdad, where Somo agrees to allocate 2m barrels to Imvume

Mar 6: SFF and Imvume sign contract: latter to supply initial 2m barrels of Basrah. Majali is in Baghdad, where Somo agrees to allocate 2m barrels to Imvume

Apr 6: Imvume supplies SFF’s 2m barrels via extended supply chain, not from its own Iraqi allocation

May 5-10: Majali and Motlanthe visit Baghdad

May 24: Imvume supplies SFF remaining 2m barrels, again not from Iraqi allocation. Ultimate supplier, a Russian company, pays kickback to Iraq

Jul 3-9: Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz visits SA, hosted by Jacob Zuma. SA slams sanctions. Farewell hosted by ANC, Imvume and Iraqi-SA Friendship Association

Jul 26-Aug 2: Majali, Motlanthe, Msimang in Middle East. Imvume signs contract with Somo to buy 4m barrels of Basrah

Oct 15: Imvume wins R750m tender to supply SA oil parastatal PetroSA with condensate to be sourced internationally

Oct 17 and Dec 13: Imvume lifts 4m barrels of Basrah, traded internationally

2003
Mar: US and UK troops invade Iraq

Dec: PetroSA pays R15m advance to Imvume, which pays R11m to ANC

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Advertising
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday