VBS scandal: MPs take the Mickey out of the EFF in parliamentary debate

2018-10-23 22:03
EFF deputy leader Floyd Shivambu. (Photo by Gallo Images / Sowetan / Veli Nhlapo)

EFF deputy leader Floyd Shivambu. (Photo by Gallo Images / Sowetan / Veli Nhlapo)

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When the Standing Committee on Finance (SCOF) discussed VBS Mutual Bank, ANC MP Thandi Tobias asked EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu twice if he had a conflict of interest. But he denied it.

However, then it emerged that his younger brother Brian Shivambu received a large gratuity from the bank.

Tobias relayed this in a heated debate on the matter in the National Assembly on Tuesday and Shivambu stood up to deny the claims.

Tobias also said that Shivambu said the bank must not be put under curatorship and that there should first be a meeting with the Venda king, who also received of VBS's largesse.

Again Shivambu stood up, this time to complain that she had cast aspersions on him.

House chairperson Grace Boroto ruled Tobias out of order, on account that the House wasn't discussing a report by SCOF.

READ: VBS scandal: Giyani municipal CFO fired over suspected involvement

This led to a situation where both the ANC and DA disagreed with a presiding officer's ruling, which is highly unusual for the Fifth Parliament.

The EFF MPs reacted angrily – pointing their fingers and shouting whenever they were dragged into the discussion of the scandal. This happened often.

Their objection of choice was that it is unparliamentary to cast aspersions on an "honourable member" unless it was done through a substantive motion.

This was also the ANC's go-to defence when the EFF used to attack former president Jacob Zuma.

A report compiled by advocate Terry Motau and Werksmans Attorneys, titled "The great bank Heist", was released two weeks ago and detailed large-scale looting of VBS.

In the report, Shivambu's brother Brian Shivambu was identified as one of 27 alleged to have received money from the bank in a "looting scheme" involving R1.8bn. Brian Shivambu is said to have received R16m.

Days later, Daily Maverick reported that of that R16m, about R10m found its way to Floyd Shivambu, and R1.33m to the EFF. At a press conference last week, Shivambu described this allegation as "insanity" and "madness".

However, the EFF revealed that there were payments between the Shivambu brothers.

Before the debate started, MPs were already gunning for Shivambu. When he stood up to speak in a debate about the Competition Amendment Act, murmurs of "VBS" crescendoed into a chant of "Pay back the money!" from the DA and ANC benches, recalling the EFF's infamous chant about Zuma's home improvements at Nkandla.

READ: ANC integrity commission has started looking into VBS scandal

Starting his speech in the VBS debate, Shivambu said imitation was the greatest form of flattery.

He said the DA and "some sections of the ANC" were barking up the wrong tree. 

"There was total wrongdoing by the executives of VBS bank," he said, calling on law enforcement agencies to take action against "anyone who did wrong".

He also criticised Treasury and the Department of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs, saying they were aware that municipalities put their money in VBS, but "because of opportunism, they did nothing".

NFP MP Munzoor Shaik Emam said: "When my friends in the overalls find stolen money in their account, they call it sharing among family members."

EFF MP Godrich Gardee objected and in a long statement, House chairperson Cedrick Frolick asked members to refrain from casting aspersions on other members.

Agang MP Andries Tlouamma said Shivambu must be treated the way they treated the previous president.

He continued speaking even though Frolick didn't entertain his point of order.

"Throw him out!" EFF MP Natasha Ntlangwini exclaimed.

The EFF used to complain bitterly when they were forcefully removed from the chamber.

Shaik-Emam said there was no doubt that Shivambu admitted that money from his brother ended up in his account.

Gardee said he was misleading the house and EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi accused him of stealing money.

"This one, we're going to be meeting in the street," she said, pointing her finger at him.

FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald pointed out that EFF leader Julius Malema, or the commander-in-chief as his fellow fighters call him, was absent.

"A real commander-in-chief would have been here today to protect his soldiers," Groenewald said.

Gardee said Malema was at the Pan African Parliament, but this didn't convince the former military man Groenewald.

"At least the people of South Africa now know the leader of the EFF is nothing but a Mickey Mouse commander-in-chief," he said.

This enraged the EFF. 

Frolick asked Groenewald to withdraw that comment, but he refused and said the only commander-in-chief was the "honourable president of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa".

He left the podium without completing his speech.

DA MP David Maynier said he disagreed with Groenewald.

"The commander of what has now become known as the EFTs is not the commander-in-chief, he's the commander in thieve!"

Again the EFF MPs reacted with indignation, and Frolick asked Maynier to withdraw, which he did.

Tlouamma said he watched in "horror as the leader of the EFF protected looters".

"What is different between Brian Shivambu and [the former president's son] Duduzane Zuma?" he asked. 

"The brother of the VBS looter has the arrogance to educate us when he failed to notice his brother," he said.

"Go open a case! Go open a case, wena!" Ntlangwini shouted.

DA MP Phumzile van Damme has opened a case against Shivambu -in fact, two cases. One was with the Hawks and the other at Parliament's ethics committee. She also challenged Shivambu to undergo a lifestyle audit. 

She probably drew the most points of order and pointed fingers from the EFF, and at one stage accused Boroto of being bullied by the EFF.

"I would like to talk about the ones who come here dressed in overalls and gumboots, and the outfits of abo Mama bethu who clean houses for a living. These are people who claim to care about the plight of the poor, but that is a blatant lie," she said.

Gardee said nowhere in the VBS report was the EFF mentioned.

"Did we really think the corruption would end with On-Point Engineering and Ratanang Trust?" Van Damme asked in reference to previous allegations of corruption against Malema.

"In the same way Mr Jacob Zuma, ubaba ka Duduzane, used his son to amass wealth through corrupt means, ubhuti ka Floyd did the same for Floyd Shivambu and his party," Van Damme continued through the howls of the EFF.

"We simply cannot trust this party's forensic investigative skills. That would be like asking Julius Malema to take a stand against the trade of illicit cigarettes."

As Van Damme returned to her seat after her speech amid many a pointed finger, she blew kisses in the EFF's direction. 

ANC MP and chairperson of SCOF Yunus Carrim pointed to the heated exchanges between the DA and EFF. 

"There are these two parties, the DA and the EFF. They are in a tactical alliance, if you want to call it that, in several municipalities," he said. 

"Is there a more inconvenient, convenient alliance, anywhere in world history? They hate each other! They absolutely hate each other! Yet they love each other when it comes to the municipalities, right?"

"So you people are attacking each other, but you're working together. Isn't that hypocrisy?"

Read more on:    vbs  |  eff  |  parliament

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