PP’s report on sale of fuel reserves did not focus enough on former Minister Joemat-Pettersson
1 October 2020
The FF Plus is disappointed that in her investigation into the irregular sale of South Africa's strategic fuel reserves, the Public Protector (PP), Busisiwe Mkhwebane, did not pay enough attention to the role that the then Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, played in the incident.
The FF Plus specifically asked in the complaint that it lodged with the PP that the Minister's role and possible lack of oversight must be investigated.
Instead, the blame for the irregularities that were uncovered has now been laid at the door of Mr Sibusiso Gamede, the former chief executive officer of the Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF). It is especially strange that the PP never even questioned the Minister despite the fact that the FF Plus specifically asked that the Minister must be investigated.
The FF Plus explicitly requested that the possibility that Tina Joemat-Petterson may be held accountable for the sale of the strategic fuel reserves, which put the country at risk of a possible fuel crisis, must be investigated.
The PP did indeed find irregularities, but for some obscure reasons only Gamede is singled out.
The investigation did not clarify whether Joemat-Pettersson was aware of Gamede's non-compliance, whether she approved of it or whether she was truly and utterly deceived. In addition, certain aspects of the non-compliance as well as which responsibilities were Joemat-Pettersson's and which were Gamede's remain unclear.
For example, the report does not mention whose duty it was to inform the Minister of Finance, as head of the National Treasury, of the transaction in writing.
As Minister, after approving the sale of strategic fuel reserves with certain conditions, Joemat-Pettersson should also have properly overseen the process to ensure that Gamede did not deviate from the prescribed procedures. Whether she did indeed do her duty in this regard was not considered despite the FF Plus's request.
The same principle must be applied in terms of the former Minister's duties concerning the ministerial command that gave the SFF the mandate to obtain and manage the country's strategic fuel reserves.
The FF Plus is of the opinion that the investigation could have been more focused on the executive oversight responsibilities of Joemat-Pettersson as well as any political protection that she may have provided to Gamede. The FF Plus hopes that the criminal investigation will delve deeper.
Issued by Anton Alberts, FF Plus national chairperson, 1 October 2020