David Maynier, shadow minister of defence and military veterans, has called on the minister of international relations and cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, to urgently explain why Ambassador Yusuf Saloojee is back at his post in Oman.
In July, South Africa suspended Saloojee, its former ambassador to Tehran, pending an investigation into his ties to MTN.
Saloojee, who was ambassador to Oman at the time of the suspension, was named in an ongoing Turkcell suit against MTN for allegedly taking a $200,000 bribe from the SA mobile operator to help it win an operating license in Iran.
The MTN Group allegedly made a payment to property attorneys, Gildenhuys Lessing Malatji Inc. on 26 April 2007 towards the purchase of a home for the ambassador in South Africa.
“Ambassador Saloojee was suspended, pending the outcome of an investigation being conducted by Nyameko Goso, a chief director in the internal audit division of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation,” Maynier said in a written statement.
He said that a reply to a parliamentary question, received on 17 October 2012, confirmed that the investigation into Ambassador Yusuf Saloojee was “still in progress”.
The department of internal relations and cooperation said in a statement of its own that Saloojee was at his posting in Muscat, the Sultanate of Oman, temporarily pending the finalisation of an on-going internal investigation.
“The department recalled Ambassador Saloojee and put him on a three-month suspension, beginning 01 July 2012, to allow for an internal investigation into allegations made against him by a former employee of a South African mobile phone company operating in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” it said.
It stressed that it “views the allegations in a serious light, hence the investigation”.
“Ambassador Saloojee’s return to Muscat is temporary, pending the finalisation and outcomes of the investigation,” the department said.
According to Maynier, Ambassador Saloojee should not be allowed to take up his post as South Africa’s ambassador to Oman if he is being investigated.
“We need to get to the bottom of why it is that the Ambassador was allowed to return to his post in Oman,” he said.
The DA shadow minister said he would be submitting parliamentary questions to the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, to determine:
- Why Ambassador Yusuf Saloojee’s suspension was lifted by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation;
- Why Ambassador Yusuf Saloojee was allowed to return to his post as South Africa’s ambassador to Oman; and
- The current state of the investigation by the Department’s internal audit division into Ambassador Yusuf Saloojee.