Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi File picture: Immah Ncube

Johannesburg - The Energy Department on Tuesday refuted a report that Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi had suspended Central Energy Fund (CEF) board members over the sale of the country's strategic oil reserves.

''The Minister of Energy, Mmamoloko Kubayi, has not suspended the board of directors of Central Energy Fund as purported by the media. The minister has, however, given the board members letters on the morning of the 26th of July 2017 requesting an explanation on concerns,'' spokeswoman Nomvula Khalo said in a statement.

''It is also important to stress the fact that Minister Kubayi is the shareholder to CEF and all matters relating to governance will be dealt between herself and the board, as such matters are dealt within the confidentiality it deserves. Should there be a need to make public announcement on any matter relating to the issues, Minister Kubayi will do so at an appropriate time.''

According to a Business Day report on Tuesday, Kubayi suspended the board after she held a meeting with them in Pretoria last week. The report stated that the suspended board members included chairman Luvo Makasi, acting CEO Mojalefa Moagi, chief financial officer Lufuno Makhuba and company secretary Abdul Haffejee, and all had until Monday, to individually respond to questions posed to them by Kubayi.

Democratic Alliance energy spokesman Gordhan Mackay said Kubayi should be called  to Parliament to give the true facts of the situation. He added that reliable sources within the department had confirmed to the DA that the board had in fact been suspended.

"The Minister can easily remedy this situation and agree to a summons to appear before the portfolio committee on energy to answer questions relating to this saga under oath."

The DA will write to the Chairperson of the Committee, Mr Fikile Majola, to ask that he summon the Minister accordingly, Mackay said.

Mackay said if Kubayi had "nothing to hide" she should readily agree to co-operate with the request.

The board and previous energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson came under fire for the transaction worth R5 billion without authorisation from Treasury.

Earlier this year, Kubayi confirmed to Parliament’s energy committee that the fuel stocks were "sold" and not rotated as was claimed by Joemat-Pettersson last year. The sale caused an outcry, partly because the stock was disposed of at the low price of 29 US dollars a barrel.

At the time, Kubayi said a forensic probe would be done to trace exactly where the money from the sale went and would also determine what losses were incurred as a result of the deal. She said criminal charges would possibly be brought against those responsible.