Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and partner Gugu Mtshali. Photo: GCIS
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and partner Gugu Mtshali. Photo: GCIS

Bring on probe – Motlanthe

By GAYE DAVIS Time of article published Mar 13, 2012

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Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe’s decision to ask the Public Protector to investigate allegations against him and his partner, Gugu Mtshali, has nothing to do with the newspaper that published details of these, his spokesman has said.

Thabo Masebe said the report by the Sunday Times suggested Motlanthe might have used his position to benefit himself or close associates. The deputy president saw the allegations in a serious light and believed they needed to be investigated fully to clear his name and Mtshali’s.

The newspaper reported at the weekend that Mtshali had been implicated in soliciting a R104 million “fee” to get government backing for an SA company that was trying to clinch a R2 billion sanctions-busting deal with Iran.

The newspaper has a recording that places Mtshali at a meeting at which former De Beers executive Raisaka Masebelanga met a delegation from the company 360 Aviation in February last year, allegedly to discuss buying support for the deal.

Self-confessed sanctions-buster Barry Oberholzer, managing director of 360 Aviation, told the Sunday Times the company delegation believed they were being asked for a payment in return for government support. His company shipped aircraft and parts to Iran through its front company, Gemini Moon.

Oberholzer also showed the newspaper evidence that he had collaborated with US intelligence agencies and said he had decided to pass on information about his sanctions-busting activities to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. The US government would neither confirm nor deny this, in terms of its standard practice regarding security matters.

Masebe said Motlanthe had not had any dealings with the company, nor had he discussed any business deals with anyone on behalf of 360 Aviation.

“There is no basis for suggesting that he is involved.”

Masebe said Mtshali also denied being party to whatever deal was struck, although the recording placed her at the meeting.

“She has said she was never in any final meeting to discuss business with 360 Aviation and was not involved in their business,” Masebe said.

According to the Sunday Times, the R10m commission agreement for obtaining a letter of support for 360 Aviation – later supplied by the Department of Trade and Industry, which is now investigating – would have been split equally between Masebelanga and Herman Moeketsi, a former Land Bank executive. Mtshali was not mentioned in the agreement, the newspaper reported.

Motlanthe had co-operated fully with the Sunday Times, answering all the questions it had put to him.

“Both Deputy President Motlanthe and Ms Mtshali are firmly of the view that they have committed no wrongdoing of any kind in relation to the alleged events described in the Sunday Times story,” Masebe said.

“Newspapers bring these things to the surface but don’t continue to investigate all the way to a final answer. The public protector is an appropriate person to investigate.”

It appeared as if unknown people were trying to “get at” Motlanthe by targeting Mtshali, Masebe said.

Motlanthe is mooted as a possible contender for the party leadership when the ANC holds its elective conference in Mangaung in December – a shake-up championed by the ANC Youth League.

He has been the victim of a smear campaign before. In early 2009 it was falsely reported that he had impregnated a young woman. - Political Bureau

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