The Democratic Alliance welcomes the announcement by Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, that South Africa’s former ambassador to Iran, Ambassador Yusuf Salojee, is being investigated by the department for allegedly taking a US$200 000 bribe from the MTN Group (Ltd).
The former ambassador allegedly received a bribe payment of US$200 000 in return for assisting MTN to secure a mobile operating license in Iran. MTN allegedly made a payment of US$200 000 to property attorneys Gildenhuys Lessing Malatji Inc on 26 April 2007 towards the purchase of a home for the ambassador in South Africa.
MTN has denied allegations that a bribe was paid to Yusuf Saloojee.
The Minister confirmed today, in a reply to a parliamentary question, that the International Relations and Cooperation Department has instituted an investigation into allegations that Yusuf Saloojee received a payment from MTN.
The Minister also confirmed that the department had not sanctioned any remunerated work by Yusuf Saloojee as would have been required under the Public Service Act (No. 103 of 1994).
This is a surprise development given the fact that, in a reply to a previous parliamentary question on the same matter, the Minister claimed that it was not necessary to launch an investigation and that any evidence of improper payments should be referred to law enforcement agencies for further investigation.
It is not clear why the department has done an about turn, but the institution of this investigation is nevertheless a welcome development.
It is imperative that the results of the investigation be made public as soon as possible.
I will therefore submit follow-up questions to the Minister to determine how long the investigation will take and when we can expect the results of the investigation to be made public.