DA seeks probe into R800m Land Bank loan

By Time of article published Jul 18, 2005

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By Moshoeshoe Monare

The Democratic Alliance intends to ask the Public Protector to probe the R800-million Land Bank loan granted to a company linked to African National Congress's (ANC) senior executives, and the ruling party's alleged involvement in Iraqi oil for food deals.

"The ANC seems to believe that the state is a private piggy bank upon which it can draw at will to fund its political campaigns, its front companies and the personal enrichment of its leaders - all at the expense of ordinary people," said DA leader Tony Leon on Sunday.

The Sunday Times reported on Sunday that the state-owned Land Bank funded the buyout of a food empire for a company in which ANC secretary-general, Kgalema Motlanthe and President Thabo Mbeki's counsellor, Manne Dipico, have a stake.

Dipico refused to comment on Sunday.

"I don't know a thing, I am just landing from Botswana now, I don't know a thing. I don't know, just continue to follow what you have got. I don't know what story you are talking about," he said.

Motlanthe's cellphone was off and his voice message facility was full. He is apparently in Botswana.

The cellphone of ANC spokesperson, Smuts Ngonyama, was diverted to the organisation's junior employee, Vuyisile, who said Ngonyama would only be available on Monday.

Leon said the DA would approach Public Protector, Lawrance Mushwana on Monday to investigate the loan granted to Pamodzi Investment Holdings.

"The public interest was harmed by this loan in two ways. First of all, the loan represented over 40 percent of the Land Bank's reserves, and therefore exposed it to extraordinary and unreasonable risk.

"Second, the lack of available reserves allegedly made it impossible for the Land Bank to serve farmers and community farming groups who were desperate for funds to buy essential agricultural supplies and equipment," said Leon.

He said this marked the second time in recent days that Motlanthe and other senior ANC officials have allegedly abused state funds and state programmes such as black economic empowerment (BEE) to enrich themselves and their party.

The Mail and Guardian newspaper reported on Friday that Motlanthe was linked to an oil-for food deal with former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, that involved an ANC-fronted company, called Imvume.

"I will urge the Public Protector to broaden his inquiry into Oilgate by determining the extent to which the state was involved in funding Imvume's Iraqi oil ventures. It is time to put a stop to the ANC's corrupt behaviour," said Leon.

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