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Fracking deal under spotlight

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'Fracking, Zwane claimed, would help diversify the energy mix, provide “cost-competitive energy security” and “significantly reduce the carbon footprint”

Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi testifies before the Zondo Commission. Picture: Screengrab from live TV feed.

FRACKING in the Northern Cape came under the spotlight at the commission of inquiry into state capture yesterday when the commission chair, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, asked former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi why Bosasa interacted with former SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni.

Agrizzi replied that Myeni was very influential. He said that Myeni had helped broker a meeting between Bosaso CEO Gavin Watson and other officials to try and influence then president Jacob Zuma to help them with a Karoo fracking transaction.

“Bosasa had been approached by Aneel Rahadkhrishna to become involved in the Karoo fracking transaction. Falcon Oil and Gas chairman Phillip O’Quigley had expressed an interest to an attorney, Lizel Oberholzer, who was a friend of Rahadkhrishna. He then brought the opportunity to Bosasa. I believe the reason that the opportunity was brought to Bosasa was that Rahadkhrishna had been told by me that Myeni was close to Gavin Watson. Myeni’s influence over President Zuma was an important factor. Certain amendments to regulations were required to facilitate the transaction,” said Agrizzi.

“It transpired that Dudu Myeni co-ordinated a meeting at Nkandla between Gavin Watson, O’Quigley and Oberholzer. It was the intention that at this meeting President Zuma would be persuaded to advise the Minister of Mineral Resources to effect the legislative changes. As far as I know, the meeting was successful. Subsequently, the minister’s legal advisers were instructed to meet with Oberholzer to make amendments to the regulations. I do not know if these amendments were in fact effected,” he said.

Agrizzi said Zuma favoured the use of Bosasa companies for government contracts.

Following an initial period of consultations and research, in which the government weighed up the potential positive and negative environmental and socio-economic implications of fracking in the Karoo, it has now officially announced its support of it.

Late last year then Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane was quoted by an online news platform as saying: “Based on the balance of available scientific evidence, government took a decision to proceed with the development of shale gas in the Karoo formation of South Africa.”

Fracking, Zwane claimed, would help diversify the energy mix, provide “cost-competitive energy security” and “significantly reduce the carbon footprint”.

Zwane also promised that the government would be open and informative. “Government will ensure that you are kept up to date about the exploration method and benefits that can be realised from the development of shale gas and informed about the mechanisms and instruments that seek to augment existing laws for the protection of water resources and for the protection of the environment.”

The hearings continue.