Magashule defends decision to reinstate VBS-linked ANC leaders

ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule.
ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule.
Jabu Kumalo
  • The ANC National Executive Committee has decided to reinstate two Limpopo ANC leaders, Danny Msiza and Florence Radzilani, who had been implicated in corruption in connection with VBS Mutual Bank. 
  • ANC secretary general Ace Magashule said the pair have been suspended for two years and could not continue on suspension. 
  • He said the pair were innocent until proven guilty. 

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule confirmed that two ANC Limpopo leaders implicated in alleged corruption at VBS Mutual Bank have been reinstated in their positions.

ANC Limpopo treasurer Danny Msiza and deputy chairperson Florence Radzilani have been given the green light to reassume their positions in the party after they were made to step aside in 2018. 

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.

MUST READ | VBS gang goes down - here's everything you need to know

Magashule, when addressing the media on Wednesday following a national executive committee meeting over the weekend, said the party cannot suspend people forever. 

"These comrades have not been charged with anything. These comrades have been mentioned in reports like many comrades mentioned in many reports. You can't charge people because of allegations. That's why we said - after almost two years these comrades must come back," he said. 

Magashule said while the party was sensitive to the fact that many people lost their money as a result of the looting of VBS, they are calling for law enforcement to act swiftly against the perpetrators who looted the bank. 

He said the NEC decided that Msiza and Radzilani be reinstated and that they would consult ANC structures and society on their decision. 

"We are going to engage our structures. We are going to engage society. We are going to explain the rationale behind the decision by the National Executive Committee," Magashule said. 

News24 reported that according to reliable sources, President Cyril Ramaphosa, at the end of the meeting, said the party should consider the poor and the old who had 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.

READ | R100 000 bail for each accused in VBS heist

Magashule said the NEC's decision was final. 

"We are going to ensure comrades Danny and Florence assume their responsibilities". 

His unambiguous position comes after reports that the NEC heard heated debate over whether the two should be reinstated because they were not arrested in the first group of people hauled before court over the looting of VBS Mutual Bank.

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

Allowed

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

ANC Limpopo provincial secretary Soviet Lekganyane challenged the move. He said the party cannot disregard the hundreds of poor people who lost their money as a result of the VBS scandal. 

Magashule insisted that the ANC must never move away from the universal principle of innocent until proven otherwise.

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 recently arrested for their links to the VBS heist.

Arrests

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

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.

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