Agang leader Mamphela Ramphele says she is expecting to testify in an investigation into a black economic empowerment deal involving ANC heavyweights and mining firm Gold Fields, whose board she chaired before entering politics.
Speaking at a media briefing this week, she said she could not comment on allegations swirling around the deal as the US authorities had begun an investigation into it and “there is no doubt that I will be asked at some stage”.
Gold Fields announced this week it was being investigated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
ANC chairwoman Baleka Mbete was a beneficiary of the 2010 R2.1 billion BEE deal tied to the granting of a mining licence for the company’s South Deep mine near Johannesburg.
The ANC said this week it was considering legal action against the Mail & Guardian newspaper for an article alleging Mbete’s intermediary, Brian Mosehla, had threatened to scupper the deal unless Mbete was granted a larger slice.
Ramphele said in March the Department of Minerals and Energy had pressured the firm to include certain shareholders in the deal, but Gold Fields said this was her personal view.
Meanwhile, Ramphele herself is fending off allegations against the previous board of the government’s Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), of which she was the chairwoman until March.
A letter to Ramphele from the director-general of the Department of Science and Technology, to which the agency reports, says the new board of TIA had “conducted an initial probe to test the validity of the allegations” and decided to launch a forensic investigation regarding alleged:
l breakdown in corporate governance.
l policy and procedural issues relating to procurement of services and staff and investment processes.
Ramphele said she was “long enough in the tooth to have seen processes like this used to subtly undermine the reputations of people”.
She was wary of falling victim to “controlled leaks” which would leave “enough whiff in the air for people to say, ‘What’s happening? That’s strange’.
“I do know that there will be attacks to besmirch my reputation, because the easiest way of shutting people up when they are making noise about corruption, is to say they are corrupt,” Ramphele said.
She had “absolutely nothing to hide, nothing to fear”.
Ramphele said the probe might have to do with a pilot development project in her home village of Bochum in Limpopo, which the agency had funded.
She said her family had donated land to the project to bring it up to a viable scale, but stood to benefit “not a penny”.
The decision to fund the project, involving the breeding of indigenous Nguni cattle, had been taken without her, by the agency’s chief executive officer, Simphiwe Duma. - Saturday Star