According to the Mail and Guardian, when Nhlanhla Nene was the chairman of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), his son, Siyabonga approached the government investment company for a loan.
So Siyabonga has created a company called Indiafrec with an Indian partner called Muhammad Amir Mirza.
They wanted to to invest in a palm oil refinery in Mozambique so they approached the PIC for funding.
The oil refinery was S&S Refinarias. The PIC planned to buy into this refinery for about $29.25-million, with half its stake going to Indiafrec.
According the Mail and Guardian’s report, Nhlanhla’s spokesman says he didn’t know his son was involved in the deal until his son mentioned in conversation that they were having problems getting the deal through.
Nhlanhla had apparently asked his son to withdraw from it.
So in August of 2014 the deal changed, Matjila signed an appraisal report claiming that Siyabonga had resigned from Indiafrec, though the company’s records still have him as a director.
This isn’t that important though because Indiafrec was written out of the deal, Mirza was going in on the deal on his own. Indiafrec did however get a ‘referral fee’.
Which is consistent with Nhlanhla telling Siyabonga to get out.
This all explains an awful lot. Corrupt officials will appoint people who they feel they can control in some way. You hide my skeletons and I will hide yours.
This was probably why Jacob Zuma, or his owners, made Nhlanhla the finance minister in the first place, he had this over the man’s head as blackmail material.
The blackmail didn’t fully work – Nhlanhla for example repeatedly refused to sign off on the nuclear deal, much as he had not sold the PIC’s stake in Independent Media to the Guptas.
That said, while Nhlanhla wasn’t going to be party to anything too crooked, he wasn’t going to speak up either because there was this deal involving his son.
If you want to know why he didn’t come forward earlier – Nhlanhla is being hauled over the coals here over a loan his son didn’t appear to actually get.
At most Siyabonga might have gotten a share of the referral fee, but this was not his father’s doing or wish. It looks like Nhlanhla tried to keep his son out of it.
This certainly doesn’t look good, but I don’t think he was corrupt, he was in a position where he was forced to skirt the borders.
Nhlanhla should have come forward years ago. The answer to being blackmailed isn’t to quietly resist but to be transparent – if you are the one who reveals this kind of dirt on yourself it no longer has any power.
And when it is revealed by somebody else – people don’t believe that all was revealed. Think of this, the nuclear deal was when Nhlanhla stood straight, but how many things has he kept quiet about for so long because this was hanging over his head?
It is always better to be open with this sort of thing, otherwise it can take on a life of its own and rule yours.
- Picture courtesy of vjlawson2001 on Flickr.