Heads roll in Limpopo over VBS scandal

(Gallo Images)
(Gallo Images)

The ANC in Limpopo has given municipalities that invested millions with the troubled VBS Mutual Bank until the end of the month to come up with “corrective measures”.

These could include taking action against municipal managers and chief financial officers who authorised these investments.

City Press understands that this is one of the recommendations contained in the ANC Limpopo’s internal investigation report on VBS.

READ: VBS dossier of damnation

The ANC’s top six officials and Limpopo officials met at Luthuli House on Monday to discuss the report. Sources with intimate knowledge of the meeting told City Press this week that the Limpopo officials presented the report to the top six. It was compiled by, among others, the head of the Limpopo ANC’s economic transformation subcommittee, Dickson Masemola, and the head of the party’s governance subcommittee, Thabo Mokone.

An ANC leader said the core message of the report was that appropriate action had to be taken against transgressors.

The report follows an order from the top six to the officials to launch an internal investigation into how municipalities invested millions of rands with VBS in August. It also comes in the wake of a report titled The Great Bank Heist, released by the Reserve Bank, which fingered two senior ANC Limpopo leaders – party treasurer Danny Msiza and deputy provincial chairperson and Vhembe district municipality mayor Florence Radzilani – in the looting of VBS. In the report Msiza is referred to as the “kingpin” of the “commissioning agent” scheme which saw several municipalities investing money in VBS.

Radzilani reportedly complained that she received only R300 000 for ensuring that millions deposited by the Vhembe district municipality into VBS were not withdrawn.

ANC Limpopo secretary Soviet Lekganyane said the province recommended that all those fingered in the scandal be punished. “The plea of the people of Limpopo is that all those involved must be brought to book. That is the message from all the stakeholders we have met.”

Lekganyane slammed municipalities, accusing them of taking “stupid” decisions in contravention of the law.

We have instructed our councillors to go and clean the mess
ANC Limpopo secretary Soviet Lekganyane

The scandal has created strife within the ANC, with some calling for implicated party leaders to step down and others saying no action should be taken against them.

This week Che Selane, ANC Youth League (ANCYL) provincial secretary, became a casualty of the rift when the league’s provincial executive committee took a decision to suspend him because of his alleged links with VBS.

The youth league in the province has also resolved that Msiza and Radzilani must immediately recuse themselves from organisational responsibility.

“The attitude of the ANCYL in Limpopo is that the ANC comes first. We must strive to defend the ANC against our own and not defend our own against the ANC,” ANCYL acting provincial secretary Matome Moremi said.

The league also wanted mayors whose municipalities invested millions in VBS to step down immediately. “The ANC has deployed wrong people to lead municipalities. The ANC needs to take voters seriously by removing these people,” he said.

There was fear that employees of municipalities which invested with VBS would not receive their salaries at the end of this month. “It is against this background that we call for heads to roll,” he said.

Limpopo municipalities that invested millions with VBS in contravention of a National Treasury directive include Fetakgomo – Greater Tubatse local municipality, Greater Giyani, Lepelle-Nkumpi, Makhado and Vhembe district municipality.

On Friday a special council meeting at the Vhembe district municipality decided to suspend municipal manager Reuben Rambado and chief financial officer Nyiko Mchavi. Municipal spokesperson Matodzi Ralushai said: “Our special sitting took a decision to give the municipal manager and chief financial officer precautionary suspensions. They are expected to make written representations on why they can’t be suspended within the seven days.”

Ralushai said the suspensions related to the municipality’s decision to invest R300 million with VBS.

Sources said workers downed tools on Friday demanding that Radzilani be suspended along with Rambado and Mchavi.

Vhembe ANC regional chairperson Tshitereke Matibe said the party was implementing corrective measures.

“The ANC has never targeted anybody. The ANC has said that there must be corrective measures against anybody who violated the law, including the municipal finance management act.

“If there is a council meeting it means they are correcting whatever needs to be corrected,” he said.

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