South Africa

Road to Elections

DA to march against VBS municipalities, sells party as the only clean option in 2019

The Democratic Alliance is continuing to apply pressure on those implicated in the VBS scandal, a focus that is helping the party sell its 2019 elections pitch for voters to choose between its “real change” or a “coalition of corruption” between the ANC and EFF.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will hold protests on Tuesday in each municipality that made illegal deposits with VBS Mutual Bank, where R2-billion was allegedly looted over three years, with much of it coming from the deposits made by local governments.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane announced the “day of action” on Sunday after the final meeting of the party’s federal council for 2018 and said the VBS saga is another sign that the ANC is defined by corruption.

ANC politicians, politically connected businesspersons and their associates’ theft of almost R2-billion from VBS bank accounts is an unconscionable crime against the poor, vulnerable and elderly in the country,” said Maimane, calling on the Hawks to investigate those implicated.

I don’t know how you become comfortable becoming a church of criminals,” he said of the ANC, listing other scandals involving the party and the ongoing investigations into issues like governance at SARS and allegations against the Free State government under that province’s former premier and current ANC Secretary-General, Ace Magashule.

They aren’t symptoms of corruption. It’s a corrupt organisation that from time to time shows times of cleanness,” said Maimane.

Senior ANC officials in Limpopo linked to the VBS scandal have been referred by the party to its integrity commission for investigation. ANC leaders have called for members to be held accountable if they are shown to have been involved in VBS’s demise.

Maimane will ask President Cyril Ramaphosa on 6 November, during oral questions in Parliament, when he first became aware of the involvement of executives in corruption and looting at VBS and what action he took. A media report claimed the president had prior knowledge of what was happening at the bank and failed to act, which the president has denied.

Maimane said Ramaphosa violated the law if he failed to report criminal acts at VBS. He said the State Capture commission has shown that the president knew more than he revealed about the Gupta family’s alleged corruption attempts but failed to reveal his knowledge while he was deputy president.

Parliament’s Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests last week announced that it’s looking into whether EFF Deputy President Floyd Shivambu had a conflict of interest when discussing VBS in a parliamentary committee. The inquiry follows a complaint from the DA.

An investigation claimed Shivambu’s brother Brian “gratuitously” received R16-million during the looting of VBS. Floyd Shivambu and the EFF have refuted claims that he and the party benefited.

The VBS scandal, its links to ANC members and the administrations it runs, and the questions surrounding the EFF, come as the DA prepares for the 2019 elections, selling voters a choice between a “coalition of corruption or the DA’s real change”.

It is clear now that South Africans only have two choices in these upcoming elections. They can either vote for the ANC/EFF coalition of corruption or the DA offer for change that builds one South Africa for all,” read the DA’s prepared statement after its federal council meeting.

Maimane said the collaboration between the ANC and EFF to elect a UDM mayor in Nelson Mandela Bay represented South Africa’s biggest threat.

They seek to divide us on the basis of race in an effort to create a distraction from their failing governments or looting sprees,” he said.

The EFF has denied it would ever go into an official coalition with the ANC, but the DA has used parties’ historical links, the Nelson Mandela Bay move, and questions over the VBS scandal to link both parties and build the DA’s image as the only viable alternative.

The VBS issue has also drawn attention away from other DA matters, such as Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille’s criticism of the party as she departs from office after a drawn-out dispute with party leaders.

Last week she said she was finished debating the DA’s early childhood development politicians; special needs politicians”.

Maimane said the DA is busy building its election machinery that will sell the party on building “one South Africa for all”. Its election launch focused on five key areas: creating jobs, cutting corruption, improving policing, securing the country’s borders, and improving service delivery.

Months after members publicly disputed different interpretations of the DA’s broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) policy, the party is yet to define its “new empowerment framework”.

Maimane said a special federal council meeting would be held by December to finalise its position on the issue before heading into the 2019 elections. DM


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