ANC NEC hears fierce debate over VBS-linked Limpopo leaders' reinstatement

Stan Mathabatha, Florence Radzilani, Soviet Lekganyane, Biskop Makamu and Danny Msiza during the party’s Limpopo provincial conference on June 24, 2018 in Polokwane.
Stan Mathabatha, Florence Radzilani, Soviet Lekganyane, Biskop Makamu and Danny Msiza during the party’s Limpopo provincial conference on June 24, 2018 in Polokwane.
Antoio Muchave/Gallo Images
  • There was hot debate in the ANC's NEC meeting this weekend over whether two of its Limpopo leaders should be reinstated.
  • Premier Stanley Mathabatha pleaded for his deputy Florence Radzilani and treasurer-general Danny Msiza to return.
  • Ramaphosa said the party must consider the poor and vulnerable, who lost their life savings as a result of the collapse of VBS.

The ANC's National Executive Committee (NEC) heard heated debate over whether two of its Limpopo leaders should be reinstated because they were not arrested in the first group of people hauled before court over the looting of VBS Mutual Bank.

Over the weekend, the party's top structure met and there was a lobby by ANC Limpopo chairperson and premier, Stanley Mathabatha, to have his deputy Florence Radzilani and treasurer-general Danny Msiza reinstated.

They were implicated in a report into the widespread looting at VBS Mutual Bank and named in a report by Terry Motau and Werksmans Attorneys.

Insiders in the virtual meeting told News24 that Mathabatha – backed by some NEC members – argued that the pair have been in limbo for two years without any action taken against them.

It was argued that the pair do not face any criminal charges and should be allowed to resume their positions in the party.

This is as the party formalised its position on combining municipal elections with the general elections, and heard discussion around having the ANC's elective conference take place the same year as the elections.

The party further heard proposals on efforts to reignite the economy with infrastructure development in focus.

While the effect of Covid-19 did not see any robust discussion, a discussion around ANC leaders tied to corruption with VBS Mutual Bank caused controversy.

'Many poor old people lost their savings'

It is understood that Mathabatha first got the buy-in of the Limpopo ANC provincial working committee, where he was supported, but faced resistance when the matter was discussed at the ANC provincial executive committee.

When the NEC discussed the matter, it heard fierce argument for and against the pair's continued suspension.

The ANC's integrity committee recommended that Msiza and Radzilani should be suspended until the matter is concluded criminally.

READ MORE | Qaanitah Hunter | The VBS prosecution must mean the party is over for corrupt municipal officials

Two reliable sources said President Cyril Ramaphosa, at the end of the meeting, said the party should consider the poor and old people who lost their savings as a result of the heist, when they decide on the matter.

"The president said so many poor old people lost their savings and we have to think about those poor people whose money was wiped out. They slept there for days. What message are we sending when these people go back to their positions without any retribution," an NEC member said.

The ANC's top decision-making structure instructed the pair to step aside from their ANC positions in December 2018, but Radzilani was sworn in as an MPL after the 2019 elections.

Msiza was implicated in the VBS scandal by allegations that he used his political influence to convince mayors and municipal officials from at least 10 Limpopo municipalities to invest hundreds of millions of rands in the now defunct bank.

Radzilani is alleged to have received R300 000 in exchange for Vhembe investing R300 million in the bank. The push to have them reinstated to their positions in the ANC comes as nine people were arrested for their links to the VBS heist.

The arrests included former VBS and Vele Investments chairperson Tshifhiwa Matodzi, who was said to be the "kingpin" behind the corruption.

Wherever the evidence leads them

The others include Andile Ramavhunga, former VBS chief executive officer, Phophi Mukhodobwane, former VBS general manager for treasury, and former VBS chief financial officer, Philip Truter.

Eight were charged with 47 counts of fraud, theft, money laundering, corruption and racketeering in relation to the stealing of R2.2 billion from VBS.

Later, there was another arrest, the former CFO of the Merafong local municipality, Mattheys Gerhardus Wienekus, in connection with the VBS heist.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, because NEC meetings are confidential, an NEC member said those who opposed the pair being reinstated argued that the case was still being investigated by the Hawks.

"Just because they are not facing charges now, it doesn't mean that they will not face charges," he said.

The source said it would be embarrassing for the ANC to reinstate the pair – only for them to be arrested afterwards.

National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi did not rule out that the next phase of their investigation may include politicians.

She said they will go wherever the evidence leads them.

News24 reached out to the ANC in Limpopo for comment on the matter and will update the story once received.

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