DA demands details of SA’s $1bn South Sudan oil refinery project

Jeff Radebe Source: Google Images

The  DA intends to intervene in a deal in which energy minister Jeff Radebe is allegedly pushing for SA to spend at least $1bn in building an oil refinery in South Sudan.

The DA plans, via the Promotion of Access to Information Act application, to get its hands on the memorandum of understanding that Radebe signed with the Sudanese government in November 2018.

Radebe has reportedly already spent R20m  on the venture, which includes hiring a private jet to travel to war-torn South Sudan. The deal has raised eyebrows in the government circles, according to the Sunday Times report.

Kevin Mileham, DA MP and shadow minister of energy said on Sunday: “It is utterly incomprehensible that the failing ANC government has not communicated on this matter and that money is being used to fund travels for ventures which have not been condoned by the Central Energy Fund (CEF).”

The energy department spokesperson Thandiwe Maimane could not be reached for comment. Mileham said the DA is keeping a close eye on attempts by the ANC to embroil itself in secretive deals with an element of self-enrichment.

The deal has reportedly not yet been tabled for the Treasury and the cabinet’s approval. Radebe told the Sunday Times that the  project was at feasibility study stage and did not yet require approval  from higher authorities. But the  CEF has reportedly advised against the feasibility study as it does not regard the investment as viable.

An unnamed energy expert, who works for a state entity, told the Sunday Times that the type of crude oil found in South Sudan cannot be used in SA.

Mileham said: “It is interesting to note that news of the deal has followed close on Radebe’s firing of the head of the CEF [Luvo Makasi].

“It cannot be that the minister continues to push through this deal without consultation or engagement with the public.

“The South African public deserves to know why [R1bn] R14.5bn of taxpayer money will be spent on an oil contract with a war-torn country and where this money will come from. We cannot be left in the dark, whilst billions are being squandered.”