The EFF dismissed claims on Tuesday that the party or its deputy president Floyd Shivambu profited off the collapse of VBS Mutual Bank and said the allegations were meant to weaken the EFF ahead of the 2019 elections.
“There’s never been any R10-million that came into my account,” said Shivambu in an EFF press conference in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
“It’s pure insanity. It’s madness of people who want to say that we received R10-million,” he added.
The allegations stem from a forensic report commissioned by the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) and compiled by Advocate Terry Motau and Werksmans Attorneys, released last week, which detailed how almost R2-billion was looted from VBS, with Brian Shivambu listed as gratuitously receiving R16-million.
Daily Maverick reported that R1.3-million of the money Brian received was allegedly funnelled to the EFF and R10-million went into Shivambu’s personal account. Mail & Guardian established on Friday what appear to be further links between Shivambu and his brother’s business dealings.
Malema said Shivambu provided his financial statements from as far back as 2014 and there was no evidence that the party’s deputy president unduly benefited from the scandal.
“There are exchanges of money from (Shivambu) to Brian, from Brian to him, and not only from Brian to him, (also) to his brother Lucky, to his parents. That’s how siblings exchange things,” said Malema.
He said the party could not act against Shivambu as there was no valid evidence against him. “There must be prima facie evidence. In the absence of such there is nothing we can do,” said Malema.
The EFF leader said a preliminary investigation showed that the party had not received any money from Brian Shivambu’s companies, Sgameka Projects and Grand Azania.
“It becomes very difficult for the EFF to do anything because we are not told where this information comes from,” said Malema. “We just hear there are sources in the Reserve Bank which are giving you information.”
Malema said Brian Shivambu worked for the EFF and established its merchandise office but is no longer a party employee.
The party condemned those who have allegedly looted VBS but said some of those implicated want to challenge the report and it would be premature to judge anyone’s guilt.
Malema blamed the media and factions in the ANC for putting the EFF in the spotlight over the issue. “Let’s be fair. That’s what we’re asking. Corruption must not be covered up. Corruption must be fought, but please let’s be fair,” he said.
He questioned why the SARB was not being criticised for not stopping the looting at VBS sooner, why Limpopo ANC officials had not been held to the same level of criticism, and why Brian Shivambu had become the face of the saga while many ANC officials from municipalities aren’t being publicly held to account.
“You leave all the public representatives, you go after one young man who holds no office at all. You want to create the impression that our deputy president was in the Motau report,” he told journalists.
“We see it for what it is. its intention is to discredit the EFF and make sure the EFF lose support in 2019,” Malema added.
He claimed the media was guilty of “embedded journalism” and has avoided criticising the ANC to protect President Cyril Ramaphosa.
In his report, Motau said VBS was beyond saving, but the EFF reiterated its call on Tuesday for the bank to be saved and its deposits protected in the same way that Africa Bank was rescued by the Reserve Bank.
The VBS matter has raised questions about the EFF’s sustained criticism of national Treasury, its deputy director general Ismail Momoniat and SARB, all key players in regulating and investigating the bank. The party dismissed the links as a conspiracy theory on Tuesday.
Motau’s report lists over 53 persons of interest who received “gratuitous” payments from VBS, many of whom have since denied wrongdoing as the scandal continues to unfold.
The DA has requested that Parliament’s ethics committee investigate Shivambu for failing to declare that he and his brother might be implicated in the collapse of VBS before Shivambu participated in a discussion on the bank in a parliamentary portfolio committee. It also challenged him to undergo a lifestyle audit.
Shivambu welcomed the DA’s move. On Tuesday, he said his brother was a consultant for Vele’s non-banking operations and had no links to VBS, meaning he had no conflict of interest.
President Cyril Ramaphosa denied reports on Monday that he had prior knowledge of the looting and failed to act. He said he learnt of the saga through government channels and requested a briefing from national Treasury.
“South Africans should not be misled by attempts to divert attention away from those responsible,” said the Presidency on Monday.
The saga is a political boon for the DA and the party didn’t buy Ramaphosa’s explanation. On Tuesday, DA leader Mmusi Maimane requested an urgent question be added to Ramaphosa’s question session in the National Assembly on Thursday.
“While the Presidency attempted to bury this matter yesterday via a press statement, the truth still remains elusive. We now sit with allegations and counter allegations, none of which provide full clarity on the President’s involvement,” said Maimane.
Maimane wants to ask the President exactly when he became aware of the looting at VBS and how he responded.
The ANC national working committee met the party’s Limpopo officials on Monday after provincial deputy chairperson Florence Radzilane and Treasurer Danny Msiza were named in the report. Msiza is accused of influencing municipalities to make deposits with VBS.
In a statement after the meeting, the party said “the law must take its course without fear or favour” and “heads must roll” if authorities confirm the allegations against ANC leaders.
VhaVenda King Toni Mphephu Ramabulana, who received over R17-million in gratuitous payments from VBS according to the report, said he would co-operate with the authorities and repay the funds he received if they are “shown to be the proceeds of illegalities”.
Vele Investments chairperson Tshifhiwa Matodzi has been quiet on the allegations. He was described by Motau as the “kingpin” of the looting scheme and listed as receiving R325-million in gratuitous payments from VBS. Vele received almost R1-billion.
Former Vele CEO Robert Madzonga has denied that he did anything wrong and accused Matodzi of betrayal and deception. He was accused of illegally receiving R30-million.
SARB’s Prudential Authority still has to study the report and make determinations on its findings and recommendations, which include widespread criminal investigations. DM
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