MPs demand answers on 'illegal' fuel stock sale | Fin24

MPs demand answers on 'illegal' fuel stock sale

May 19 2017 13:17
Liesl Peyper

Cape Town - Political parties on Friday again slammed the sale of South Africa’s strategic fuel stocks a year after the controversial transaction came to light.

In a debate about the Department of Energy’s budget vote for the 2017/18 financial year, the African National Congress, Democratic Alliance, the Economic Freedom Fighters and the African Christian Democratic Party specifically lambasted the incident, saying it robbed South Africa of its oil reserves.

The ANC’s Fikile Majola, who also chairs Parliament’s portfolio committee on energy, called for the matter to come to a close as a matter of urgency and asked the minister to conduct proper oversight over the "compromised sale" of the strategic fuel stock. 

'Joemat-Pettersson misled us'

The DA’s Gordon Mackay claimed that former energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson may have misled Parliament last year when she claimed the sale was a “supposed stock rotation”.

READ: Sale of SA oil reserves 'careless' - regulator 

“[The new] Energy Minister (Mmamoloko Kubayi) for the first time confirmed what has long been suspected - that the supposed stock rotation of the nation’s strategic fuel stocks was in fact a sale and not a rotation as stated in this House by the minister’s predecessor,” Mackay said.

“Ten million barrels have been sold at bargain basement prices – at least $10 per barrel below the spot price at the time,” Mackay added, “without the required concurrence of National Treasury or any detail to the procurement and tender processes followed.”

ACDP MP Steve Swart in his speech called on Kubayi to do the "right thing" and get a declaratory order from the courts to get behind the "secret oil sale". "Show the nation you're prepared to do what is right and good." 

He said Joemat-Pettersson had been "more than liberal" with the truth, calling the sale a "stock rotation". 

READ: Minister brushes off gossip over R5bn oil sale 

"We need to know what has happened with this oil: has it been moved offshore? Will we get it back?" Swart asked. 

Wrapping up the debate, Kubayi responded, saying MPs should not make allegations before they know the full facts. "On May 30 we'll discuss the report on the sale of the fuel stock with Parliament," she said.

"What are you discussing now? You're basing your statements on general knowledge. Wait for the report before you engage. Then you can decide if anyone has misled you." 

'Glaring governance problems'

Kubayi recently told a parliamentary briefing that there had been "glaring governance problems” related to the sale of the country’s crude oil reserves.

She said legal action would be taken against the Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF), which is responsible for managing the reserves and conducted the R3.7bn sale.

READ: Minister sees 'glaring' problems in oil stock sale 

The SFF, a unit of the Central Energy Fund (CEF) that reports to the Department of Energy, had previously described the transaction as a rotation of stocks.

The CEF also defended the sale of oil, saying at the time the country had access to 90 days of crude oil reserves, which was 30 days more than the required volumes. 

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