Jeff Radebe . Picture: GCIS
Jeff Radebe . Picture: GCIS

On the eve of the elections, energy minister Jeff Radebe hastily signed an agreement that the SA government would invest $1bn in the South Sudanese oil sector. He explained that the object was to address SA’s need for crude oil, ensure self-sufficiency and mitigate fluctuating fuel prices. 

This is a strange decision given Total’s “game-changer” discovery of a significant oil and gas condensate reserve in its Brulpadda drilling off the coast of Mossel Bay.

Yet this passed with barely a murmur from the Treasury. It would appear the ANC will never tire of new investments by state-owned enterprises, or their politicians continuing to reinvent themselves as entrepreneurs.

The ANC has a long and disastrous legacy in this sector. PetroSA has been plagued by the Oilgate corruption scandal and other “dodgy deals” and power struggles practically from its establishment. It was found to have paid $20m over the target price for its 2013 acquisition of crude oil acreage in Ghana. Its plan to buy petrol stations across SA incurred fraudulent and exorbitant cancellation fees and commissions of more than R200m.

Then there was its R14.6bn operating loss in 2014/2015 for the failure of the offshore Ikhwezi project, and in recent years there have been further losses, with the auditor-general raising concerns over its ability to continue operating in future.

The cherry on top was the 2015 sale of the entire strategic fuel reserve — 10-million barrels of crude oil — for at least $10 a barrel below the ruling market price. This represented a fraud of at least R1.5bn.

Needless to say, nobody has taken responsibility, nor have there been any convictions.

Alan Mantle
Via e-mail