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S.African leaders demand explanation for $1B deal with S.Sudan

Author: Rosemary Wilfred | Published: Monday, March 25, 2019

South African Energy Minister, Jeff Radebe and South Sudan Minister of Petroleum and Mining, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth at the signing of the $1b MoU in Juba, November 2018. Photo: Africa Oil & Power

Members of the leading opposition Party in South Africa are demanding for an explanation from the country’s Energy Minister about the $1billlion oil deal he signed with South Sudan last year.

In November 2018, the Minister of Petroleum, Ezekiel Lol Gatkouth signed a memorandum of understanding with his South African counterpart, Jeff Radebe that would allow the two countries to work jointly to improve South Sudan’s oil and gas industry in a bid to improve the economy.

On the day of the signing, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth told reporters in Juba that the cooperation deal between the two countries would help South Sudan build its oil refinery that will allow the country to sell refined products to Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, and Uganda.

He said the funding for the project would come from South Africa’s Central Energy Fund, adding that the deal would see the two countries create alternative routes of transporting its crude oil.

For his part, Jeff Radebe – South Africa’s Energy Minister said the planned oil refinery with a capacity of producing up to 60,000 barrels of oil per day, is to ensure that the peace process is anchored with economic development by exploiting the oil resources for the prosperity of the country.

The South African Minister also announced a donation of a mineral laboratory to South Sudan’s Petroleum Ministry as part of his government’s commitment to the deal.

However, According to a local daily – the Sunday Times, members of the Democratic Alliance –the second largest party in South Africa, are now questioning why the Energy Minister is undertaking a 1 billion dollar project in South Sudan without engaging the public on the matter.

“The South African public deserves to know why 1 billion dollars 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, while billions are being squandered,” One party member said.

The legislators further claimed that Energy Minister Jeff Radebe signed the agreement with the South Sudanese government last year without the approval of the Treasury and Cabinet.

In its report, The Sunday Times is quoted as stating that the Democratic Alliance plans, via South Africa’s Promotion of Access to Information Act application, to get its hands on the memorandum of understanding that Minister Radebe signed with the South Sudanese government in November 2018, in order to keep “a close eye” on the matter.

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