Come the 2019 elections, repercussions of The Great Bank Heist are perceived to cost the African National Congress (ANC) in Limpopo dearly as it battles it out for votes at the ballot box.
The warning from the political arena sounded out as the news about threatening court applications and appearances before political party integrity commissions kept rolling in this week. The dust kicked up by the widely debated report is expected to hover for a while still and several days after it having being made public, the report continues to have a ripple effect as measures are being introduced to deal with issues.
Political parties are having a field day at the expense of the ANC and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), who share the common denominator of leaders being implicated in the report.
Democratic Alliance (DA)
In breaking news published on observer.co.za last Thursday, the DA’s national press office was quoted in a statement that two of its Parliamentarians, Kevin Mileham and Solly Malatsi, were intending to lay charges against the VBS50 at Cape Town Central Police station that day. Later on a release was received confirming that the DA had laid criminal charges against the 50 people who allegedly siphoned billions from VBS Mutual Bank. “The VBS scandal has had irreparable consequences on the countless poor South Africans who are still struggling to gain access to their life-savings,” it was stated.
“The effects of the scandal will also be felt by the numerous municipalities which are now at risk of losing billions in revenue.”
Congress of the People (Cope) Limpopo
Cope Provincial Leader Makgwana Arnaus Rampedi said in a statement on behalf of the party that though very aware of alleged corruption in the ANC, they were shocked by the depth and extent of corruption as exposed in the report. “While the whole report is full of amazing footwork to loot from VBS, Cope is specifically concerned about the municipality capture phenomenon involving mayors, municipal managers and chief financial officers. These individuals acted as middlemen and women between the municipalities and VBS for a fee. These so-called commissions were nothing but bribes aimed at stealing from the poor by politically very well connected individuals. Many poor families are suffering now because of the shenanigans. Many ANC-run municipalities are suffering now because of the very same ANC.”
Rampedi raised the view that those whose names reflected in the report should be suspended with immediate effect if the ANC wished to save whatever was left of their face. “The ANC in Limpopo cannot allow some of their most senior officials to be involved in a scandal like this. These must be arrested immediately as suspects in the big heist. They will prove themselves in the courts of the country. Service delivery protests that we have seen in the near past are an indication of the state of affairs (of) the affected municipalities.”
Rampedi further mentioned that Cope believed VBS Bank should be allowed to disappear from the map and if there was a need for something like it “let us start from a clean slate”. All proceeds from the heist, including houses, mansions, cars, businesses and other properties should be sold to reimburse the poor communities, he advised. In conclusion he stated that “in the spirit of the ‘new dawn’ President Cyril Ramaphosa must act as there is no one ‘to send’ in Limpopo in the spirit of ‘Thuma Mina’!”
Renewed Party of South Africa (RSA.P)
In comment on behalf of RSA.P, interim party leader Cornelis Roelofse called on the Reserve Bank and the Special Investigation Units to exercise their duties to impound property of those who allegedly plundered VBS. “The special powers awarded by the Prevention of Organised Crime Act should be invoked by the Hawks. To call on the ANC government to intervene is like calling the arsonists to put out a fire. It will simply not help but aggravate things.”
Earlier on in his statement Roelofse expressed the opinion that the plundering of VBS was a pervasive culture that had gripped South Africa and seemed to be much wider and deeper entrenched as generally perceived. “VBS is a typical example of what seems to be a conspiracy of politicians and businesspeople to plunder an esteemed institution such as a bank. The audacity, absolute insolence and disrespect for clients’ interests is something abhorrently evil.”
Party of Action (POA)
In his comment POA national leader Billy Nyaku said his party was perplexed by reports on the alleged VBS Bank looting. “With some ANC and EFF members implicated in this scandal, it is very (too) premature to call anyone a criminal until they are prosecuted. Almost everyone in POA has a tangible amount of respect for VBS Bank for its existence over the years as 100% black-owned in a largely white dominated financial sector. It is apparent that South Africa is a corruption-infested nation and nobody goes to jail on corruption-related charges. It is all about charges but nobody languishes in jail on account of corruption. Our people are suffering and this is like a curse from the apartheid government.”
He said the scores of people joining POA at an alarming rate was as a result of reckless and unethical leadership in the country. “VBS Bank is now retrenching our people on account of this scandal that involves billions. POA also appeals for no political interference with regard to on-going investigations about this matter, until someone goes to jail.”
Corruption was rooted in state institutions and the current government was incapacitated to deal with corruption because its members were seen to be implicated in most cases, he opined. “This can be confirmed by several ANC members implicated in the VBS Bank scandal. With a POA government (in place in future) jails will be full of corrupt people who steal from the poor.”
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Limpopo
EFF Provincial Chairperson Jossey Buthane stated telephonically that what was happening at VBS Bank was very unfortunate and that the public tendency of politicising the matter was equally unfortunate. If the rot at VBS Bank that the EFF in Limpopo had warned about in the past had been paid attention to the situation could have been avoided, he emphasised.
He referred to banks being bailed out by government in the past and said VBS shouldn’t be closed down. He reckoned there should be means of saving the institution and a proper way forward had to be found. The EFF in the province was giving a thumbs up to black excellence and the ability of black people being able to do it, he remarked. The people of Limpopo now had to get together to heal and assist the bank to flourish, Buthane said. “You can’t cry forever. Now let’s find a solution.”
African National Congress (ANC) Veterans League Limpopo
From the ANC provincial headquarters a statement was received following a press briefing of the party’s Veterans League in Limpopo on Friday afternoon. In the press release prepared by the office of ANCVL Provincial Secretary Rashaka Ratshitanga, the league in Limpopo indicated in no uncertain terms disappointment with the Provincial Executive Committee of the ruling party for failing to take appropriate and timeous action to deal with the matter decisively. The league cited efforts on their part to intervene after being alerted about South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) members being victimised for exposing the matter.
In a statement on behalf of the ANC’s National Working Committee (NWC) that was posted on the Office of the Premier’s WhatsApp group on Tuesday and issued the previous day, ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule was quoted saying the NWC had discussed the dire situation that has faced citizens, being pensioners, individual depositors and residents of affected municipalities, in view of the closure of VBS Mutual Bank. “The NWC has studied the report commissioned by the South African Reserve Bank prudential authority, and has since referred the report in respect of its members to its Integrity Commission to expeditiously attend to the matter.”
He continued stating that the ANC NWC urged law enforcement agencies to act speedily and with precision, including following up on illegal actions by any entity or individuals.
The NWC of the ANC had echoed the same sentiments with the ANC provincial leadership, maintaining that in case of proven wrongdoing by individuals and institutions, heads had to roll and the law had to take its course without fear or favour, he stated.
“The manner in which authorities process this report will be an important indication on (of) our nation’s commitment to renewal and ethical leadership,” he concluded.
Story: YOLANDE NEL