Editor's note: Charles Cilliers argues that Busisiwe Mkhwebane's inaction regarding the selling of South Africa's strategic oil reserves raises questions about her commitment to protecting the public.
"Amid all the headline-grabbing fanfare of Bosasa, Guptas, Busisiwe Mkhwebane and state capture, I wouldn’t blame you if you haven’t been giving much ongoing thought to how South Africa sold off all its strategic oil reserves for a pittance to Glencore and Vitol, the world’s largest commodity traders, and one smaller company, the Taleveras Group.
"(No one else was invited to tender to buy the oil, by the way. And if that sounds dodgy, it’s because it is.)
"So allow me to remind you about something we should all still be more than a little outraged about, and because the story still hasn’t ended, New Dawn or not.
"In its most recent newsletter, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) summed up the sorry affair and pointed out that SA civil society may once again have helped to stave off a crime of grand corruption cooked up in the oil pot in which our government and the biggest of big business regularly burns our behinds.
"A quick recap: Between December 2015 and January 2016, South Africa’s entire stockpile of crude oil reserves – 10.3 million barrels – was sold by government’s Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF) to these international traders for about $300 million.
It was a first for any country in history (not a good kind of first of the Chris Barnard or Neil Armstrong variety; more a bomb on Hiroshima kind of first)."
" 'The International Energy Agency recommends that countries keep 90 days of nett imports in their strategic stockpile to prevent an economic breakdown in case of energy emergencies,' OUTA points out. 'If the Oilgate deal is not reversed, South Africa will be left with nothing.'
"Oil reserves – obviously enough – allow a country to keep the economy turning if something dreadful goes down. You know, like a war, or an asteroid hitting us (which almost happened last week, by the way), or just one tweet too many about North Korea from Agent Orange in the White House."
Read the rest at The Citizen.
Charles Cilliers is the digital editor at The Citizen.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Briefly.co.za.
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