Zuma to release Oilgate report in December

President Jacob Zuma will release the report of the Donen Commission of Inquiry into the involvement of South Africans in the Iraq oil-for-food programme, his office said on Tuesday.

Spokesperson Mac Maharaj said the report would be released in recognition of the public interest in the subject matter.

The Donen report allegedly implicates deputy minister Kgalema Motlanthe and Housing Minister Tokyo Sexwale in unethical and possibly illegal activities. Both are seen as potential challengers to Zuma’s presidency of the ANC in the run-up to the party’s electoral conference in Mangaung next year.

But Maharaj was at pains to distance Zuma from speculation of political manoeuvring.

“The presidency is aware of the potential misuse of the contents of the report,” he said.


“We wish to caution that the comments made … about individuals must not be elevated to findings of fact as these were interim and untried comments.”

In 2006, former president Thabo Mbeki commissioned an investigation into illegal transactions by South African individuals and companies in the United Nations oil-for food programme.

The programme was established in 1995 to allow Iraq to sell oil in exchange for food, medicine, and other humanitarian aid without building up funds for military purposes.

It was tainted by corruption and abuse, with the Iraqi government demanding illicit payments from its customers.

Mbeki’s commission of inquiry was headed by advocate Michael Donen, with assistance from advocate Andrew Chauke and senior superintendent Lucy Moleka.

Their report apparently implicated some top leaders in the ANC, including Motlanthe and Sexwale, and was not released to the public.

Maharaj said on Tuesday that the report “clearly established that the conduct of the individuals from South Africa affected by this report did not constitute any offence under South African law”.

“Those who were caught up in the subject matter of the inquiry did not have an opportunity to deal with their alleged involvement fully.”

On Tuesday, the Democratic Alliance and the Freedom Front Plus welcomed the release of the report, but questioned the motive behind its sudden release after failed attempts by Independent Newspapers to access it under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (Paia).

“The timing of the presidency’s announcement is … interesting, given that the report is said to implicate two figures who appear to be opposed to Zuma’s continued leadership of the ANC,” DA parliamentary leader Athol Trollip said.

“… It is crucial that information is released into the public domain for the right reasons, and not as a means to fight internal political battles.”

The FF Plus said it wondered whether the Donen report had become part of an internal struggle in the run-up to the ANC’s elective conference next year in December.

“The fact that Zuma is at this specific time prepared to release the Donen report, nearly 30 months after he took up his office … begs the question whether … he would possibly gain politically from it,” parliamentary spokesperson on minerals Anton Alberts said.

He said the FF Plus wrote a letter to Motlanthe in October 2008 requesting him to release the report. The request was denied.

“It is high time that South Africa finds out what advantage the ANC had gained from this scandal.”

Zuma will make the report available by December 7. — Sapa

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

Subscribers only

Pandemic cripples learners’ futures

South African schools have yet to open for the 2021 academic year and experts are sounding the alarm over lost learning time, especially in the crucial grades one and 12

Q&A Sessions: George Euvrard, the brains behind our cryptic crossword

George Euvrard spoke to Athandiwe Saba about his passion for education, clues on how to solve his crosswords and the importance of celebrating South Africa.

More top stories

Power shift at Luthuli House

Ace Magashule’s move to distance himself from Carl Niehaus signals a rebalancing of influence and authority at the top of the ANC

Trump slinks off world stage, leaving others to put out...

What his supporters and assorted right-wingers will do now in a climate that is less friendly to them is anyone’s guess

The US once again has something  Africa wants: competent leaders

Africa must use its best minds to negotiate a mutually beneficial economic relationship

Stern warning against Covid greets Mthembu’s death

The ANC has slammed conspiracy theorists and cautioned against showing complacency towards the deadly virus
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…