DA calls for probe over Kumba debacle

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is calling for a probe into the mineral resources department following its handling of “the mineral rights debacle involving Kumba and Imperial Crown Trading (ICT)”.

The DA’s shadow minister of mining James Lorimer said new allegations of corruption around the issue continued to emerge.

“I will be writing to President Jacob Zuma to call on him to request a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) enquiry into the department,” Lorimer added.

He said the scale of accusations of corruption by officials of the department was “quite alarming”.

“At the centre of all of this is ICT, a company with links to a son of the president and the partner of the deputy president.”

Lorimer said it was vital that the highest offices in the land be freed from all taint of corruption and cronyism.

Credible result
“This can only realistically be achieved by an SIU investigation which will carry the necessary weight to achieve a credible result.”

Failure to restore the credibility of the department or of the presidency would simply add to investors’ reluctance to put their money into South Africa’s mining industry, which should be the key driver of the country’s economic growth.

New allegations by a legal consultant with knowledge of the department’s dealings were reported on last week.

They included the allegation that ICT chief executive Phemelo Sehunelo allegedly paid a bribe of R250 000 to Charles Lerumo, the department’s Northern Cape assistant director of mineral laws, to facilitate the acceptance of ICT’s application for a 21.4% undivided share in an old order mining right which had not been converted to a new order right by ArcelorMittal.

Lerumo allegedly kept R150 000 and passed R100 000 on to Thozama Basi, the department’s Northern Cape assistant director of social and labour plans.

Basi, who took possession of Kumba’s application on April 30 2009, allegedly made copies of documents such as title deeds from this application during the subsequent long weekend. She then handed these copies to Sehunelo.

Investigating serious malpractices
“There is evidence that ICT’s application was incomplete and unsigned at the time it was purportedly captured on the department’s computer systems on May 4 2009,” Lorimer said.

“Lerumo saw to the capturing of ICT’s application on May 4, even though the ICT application was in fact only signed on May 5 that year. This is significant, as Kumba’s application was also registered on May 4 and legislation promotes a ‘first past the post’ approach to competing applications.”

He added that the SIU and Special Tribunals Act No 74 of 1996 was constructed “for the purpose of investigating serious malpractices or maladministration in connection with the administration of state institutions”.

He stressed that if the allegations were indeed true, the grounds for an investigation had certainly been fulfilled.

“The DA therefore urges the president to act on this request immediately,” Lorimer said.—I-Net Bridge


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