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ANC Provincial Chairperson Stan Mathabatha and ANC Provincial Secretary Soviet Lekganyane side by side on stage, the only two top officials of the party in the province visibly present during the opening on Saturday evening.

Mayoral heads roll: VBS Mutual Bank saga – seven released

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The directive requesting the resignation of seven ruling party-affiliated mayors implicated in the contentious VBS Mutual Bank saga and a letter of resignation by Florence Radzilani, Vhembe District Executive Mayor who is also African National Congress (ANC) Provincial Deputy Chairperson, conclude another chapter in the ongoing matter that has shaken Limpopo as much as it did the rest of the country the moment the Great Bank Heist report was released about two months ago.
The announcement about seven mayors attached to local and district municipalities in Limpopo implicated in questionable investments of multi-millions with the bank was made during a joint media conference by the Provincial Government and the ruling party in the province that was conducted in Polokwane at the time of going to press around the noon hour on Tuesday.
The press briefing came in the wake of the all important list conference of the ruling party in Limpopo held at Bolivia Estate on Saturday. Radzilani, who has been implicated in The Great Bank Heist report along with ANC Provincial Treasurer Danny Msiza, was on the ballot when party delegates voted by expressing preferences of branches for party representation in the Legislature and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). It was learnt that Msiza did not make himself available for nomination.
Radzilani and Msiza were both conspicuously absent from stage on Saturday evening. During a brief presser after the opening, ANC Provincial Chairperson Stan Mathabatha informed journalists of the decision by the ANC’s National Working Committee (NWC) that determined the stepping aside of all party members implicated in the VBS Mutual Bank saga until they had been proven guilty or innocent and their names cleared. He continued saying the decision of the ANC Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) following a meeting on Friday, after receiving the NWC letter that same day, was not to discuss it extensively on Saturday evening but to request any implicated comrades not to get voting status until Monday when the PEC would have met, made an analysis and interpretation and came up with a clear understanding and implementation of the resolution.
The list with the 74 names for Legislature seats and 29 to be put forward for NCOP representation was initially expected to be made public late Monday. Vote counting had continued until early that morning before the list committee was set to present the final names to the PEC for endorsement mid-afternoon, according to ANC PEC spokesperson Donald Selamolela. However, when going to press on Tuesday he indicated that the list was expected to have been available at 17:00 that day as the PEC couldn’t deal with it the previous day due to having to address other urgent issues relating to the VBS matter.
Journalists covering Saturday’s conference were in for a marathon wait for the official programme to eventually get started around 18:30 that day, after being informed by means of a prior alert by the party in the province that the event was due to commence at 09:00. Around 12:30 on Saturday Selamolela came to their rescue upon discovery of a group of rather irate journalists still waiting at the main entrance to Bolivia Estate for accreditation to access the venue, which occurred around 14:00.

Soviet Lekganyane participates in a revolutionary song after ascending the podium to address delegates to the conference on Saturday evening.

Stan Mathabatha addresses delegates during his address to the conference on Saturday evening.

An excited delegate to the conference dances to a revolutionary song.

The sight of a single delegate in the hall around 14:00 greeted members of the media when they eventually gained access to the venue.

FOLLOW-UP: ANC Limpopo releases seven mayors over VBS saga

The African National Congress (ANC) in Limpopo resolved to release the mayors of Vhembe District as well as Makhado, Collins Chabane, Lepelle-Nkumpi, Greater Giyani, Fetakgomo Tubatse and Ephraim Mogale local municipalities for their implicated involvement in investments made by the municipalities with VBS Mutual Bank.
The announcement was made by the party’s Provincial Secretary, Soviet Lekganyane during a joint media briefing with the Provincial Government at the Premier’s Office on Tuesday. He said they had arrived at the ‘very painful decision’ that the seven mayors should be released from duty. This included Vhembe District Executive Mayor and ANC Provincial Deputy Chairperson, Florence Radzilani who had reportedly tendered her resignation on Tuesday morning.
Lekganyane emphasised that they had not been aware of Radzilani’s resignation until the conclusion of the ANC Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) meeting earlier that day. He also stressed that municipalities that managed to get their money back were not off the hook because they still had to account for the wrongfulness of the investments as they had contravened the Municipal Finance Management Act.
Radzilani’s letter of resignation made available to Polokwane Observer was dated 11 December 2018 and displays Radzilani signature. It read: “I would like to reiterated the fact that I have consistently communicated that I was not involved to VBS municipal investments both officially and privately. I leave the office with clear conscious after being vindicated by the two forensic investigations namely Paradime Forensic investigators and Premier Mathabatha’s forensic report (Grant Thornton) (sic).”
Premier Stan Mathabatha indicated that recommendations in the forensic report instituted in June this year included that disciplinary action should be considered against the municipal managers and chief financial officers. He further said they were going to implement all the recommendations in the report and that the departments of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs and Provincial Treasury have to ensure that criminal charges and civil claims are laid against the implicated officials.

Premier Stan Mathabatha calls for action against officials implicated in the VBS saga.

“We call on law enforcement agencies to support and supplement our efforts to ensure that justice is done without fear, favour or unreasonable delays. We want to see arrests, successful prosecutions and serious jail terms for all those who have violated the law. For our part as government, we will provide all the necessary support to the law enforcement agencies to bring this matter to finality,” Mathabatha stated.
He added that the report, together with the findings, would be handed to all affected municipal councils for the necessary attention and relevant action. He further said that they expect the councils to do the right thing.
Recap of investments made:
Collins Chabane – R120 million, Elias Motsoaledi – R190 million (but got all the money back), Ephraim Mogale – R80 million, Fetakgomo Tubatse – R230 million, Giyani – R148 656 million, Lepelle Nkumpi – R150 million, Makhado – R150 million (got money back with outstanding amount of R53 532 million), Makhuduthamaga – R120 million (all the money returned), Polokwane R349 million (but all money retrieved). The total amount invested was R2,6 billion and the amount still outstanding is R1 082 171.

Stories & photos:
YOLANDE NEL
>>observer.yolande@gmail.com
ENDY SENYATSI
>>endy@observer.co.za

ANC Provincial Secretary Soviet Lekganyane announces the decision to release seven municipal mayors over VBS investments.

Provincial Treasury MEC, Rob Tooley at the presser on the VBS provincial forensic report.

ANC Provincial Secretary, Soviet Lekganyane, Premier Stan Mathabatha and Provincial Treasury MEC Rob Tooley at a media briefing at the Premier’s Office on Tuesday.