The Public Protector found no evidence that former health Minister Zweli Mkhize interfered in a R220 million loan that was granted by the Public Investment Corporation to Afric Oil, nor that he demanded a “facilitation” fee.
In a report released late on Wednesday, the Public Protector said it investigated media reports that alleged Mkhize, as Treasurer-General of the ANC, facilitated the granting of the loan to the local oil company in 2016, and demanded a R4.5 million fee in return.
Both Mkhize and the PIC denied these claims, and the Public Protector found no evidence that Mkhize had “improperly interfered” in the PIC’s procedures to grant the loan. It also found that Mkhize did not “improperly receive a payment for facilitating such loan”.
The PP said its finding was supported by the fact that the PIC did not reject an initial loan application to Afric Oil, as was alleged in some of the reports. It said that this was “a critical component of the complaint”, as the allegation was that Afric Oil only approached Mkhize for assistance after an initial loan application was declined by the PIC.
It also found that the loan to Afric Oil followed the necessary due diligence and approval processes.
At the time of the allegations, PIC said that it regarded Afric Oil as an important emerging fuel supplier – the first black-empowered entity in the petroleum industry – and said that the loan would be used to grow its logistics division, the acquisition of storage facilities and the provision of working capital.
“The PIC regards [it] with the potential to create jobs and advance entrepreneurship,” it said in a statement.
Earlier on Wednesday, Mkhize was dealt a severe public blow after the Special Investigation Unit report into Digital Vibes was made public by President Cyril Ramaphosa. It found that Mkhize lied when he said he and his family did not benefit from the irregular R150 million contract to Digital Vibes, which was appointed to run the National Health Insurance and later the Covid-19 media communications strategy.