NEWSFLASH

Malema: VBS allegations a plot to defend Pravin Gordhan

By Greg Nicolson 28 May 2019

Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu at a Media Conference in Johannesburg, August 23, 2018. (Photo by Gallo Images / Beeld / Deaan Vivier)

EFF leader Julius Malema has dismissed an investigation revealing the party benefited from R4.13-million looted from VBS Mutual Bank. Malema claimed he’s not worried about ‘lizard’ journalists while the ‘crocodile’ Pravin Gordhan is in the party’s sights.

EFF President Julius Malema on Tuesday claimed there was a “witch-hunt” against the EFF after Daily Maverick’s Scorpio published an investigation tracing how R4.13-million looted from VBS Mutual Bank was used to benefit the party.

Malema claimed the story was “recycled” and was released to defend Pravin Gordhan, who critics say should not be appointed in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet after Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane found he acted unlawfully.

Speaking to Xoli Mngambi on eNCA, Malema claimed Scorpio’s award-winning investigative journalist Pauli Van Wyk was targeting the EFF to protect Gordhan from the party’s criticism of the powerful former minister of finance, public enterprises and cooperative governance.

I’m not going to entertain this thing that every time Pravin is in hot water and the EFF takes a stand Pauli goes to a dustbin to dig the old (story). I don’t have time for that. She must go and be buried in that dustbin where she digs the old recycled story of VBS. There’s nothing new,” said Malema.

Despite the substantial evidence against the EFF, Malema denied that R454,000 flowed from VBS through shelf companies linked to EFF leaders to the account of Eyadini Lounge in Umlazi, where the EFF held a party to celebrate its fourth birthday in July 2017.

It was not paid for by VBS,” said Malema. “We paid for it. We pay for our rallies.”

He was not quizzed on other allegations contained in the investigation that provided further evidence that the EFF benefited from the collapse of VBS.

In a report commissioned by the Reserve Bank and released in October 2018, advocate Terry Motau and Werksmans Attorneys found R1.8-billion was looted from VBS.

That report found Brian Shivambu’s company Sgameka Projects received R16.1-million from VBS. Shivambu is the brother of EFF Deputy President Floyd Shivambu.

Scorpio’s investigation traces funds that flowed from VBS through Sgameka and directly into EFF bank accounts as well as through Mahuna Investments, purportedly owned by Malema’’ cousin Motsobane Phaleng.

The funds were used to pay for the party’s 2017 birthday bash, office expenses and even contribute R460,000 to a house Malema was renting that was later registered as an EFF asset. Some of the VBS funds appear to have been paid to regional EFF branches.

We are not going to be chased by Afrikaner journalists here who want to rubbish the EFF because the EFF doesn’t agree with Pravin. The VBS story in the EFF is buried. It doesn’t matter how many times they can recycle it, it will never shake the EFF,” Malema said on eNCA.

Responding to the release of the Motau report, Malema offered journalists access to the party’s financial records. The EFF told Scorpio it could access them after the 8 May 2019 general elections but is yet to open its financials up to scrutiny from the media.

We just finished the eighth. We are all getting our houses in order,” said Malema, claiming the EFF would still share its records with journalists.

It’s not like the month or the year has finished but when you are in a witch-hunt you see an hour to be equal to a year,” he continued.

The EFF has repeatedly dismissed reports linking the party to the looted VBS funds but has not challenged any of the allegations in court.

Asked why the EFF hasn’t gone to court, Malema said the party’s growth in the recent elections showed it was not tainted by the VBS scandal and it was instead focused on challenging Gordhan.

Why clear a name which is not tainted? People can see this story for what it is and therefore we are not worried. We are not going to be entertaining lizards. We are busy with a crocodile here called Pravin. We’ve got it by the tail, that’s what we are dealing with,” said Malema.

Malema has urged Ramaphosa not to appoint Gordhan to Cabinet after the Public Protector on Friday 24 May released a report that found his approval of former deputy SARS commissioner Ivan Pillay’s early retirement in 2010 was unlawful.

Malema has repeatedly attacked Gordhan since he was appointed public enterprises minister in Ramaphosa’s Cabinet in 2018. Gordhan is one of Ramaphosa’s key allies and has focused on addressing challenges at state-owned entities.

Amidst increasing evidence questioning Mkhwebane’s fitness for office, Malema on Tuesday backed the Public Protector.

The Public Protector’s remedial action stands and must be respected,” he said.

It doesn’t matter whether I like her or not. She’s the Public Protector,” Malema added.

He claimed that removing Mkhwebane would sacrifice the independence of Chapter 9 institutions to the whims of political parties.

Gordhan’s lawyers have said he will immediately launch a review application of Mkhwebane’s report, which they said was wrong in fact and law. DM

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