EFF mum on Shivambu and VBS re­port

Party has not yet said how it will deal with Floyd Shivambu’s ap­par­ent in­ter­est in VBS through his brother

Business Day - - NATIONAL - War­ren Thomp­son and Genevieve Quin­tal

The EFF, hav­ing of­ten com­mented on the VBS Mu­tual Bank scan­dal be­fore, has re­mained mum on the im­pli­ca­tion of the brother of its deputy pres­i­dent, Floyd Shivambu, by a Re­serve Bank re­port.

The EFF has also not re­sponded to ques­tions on the party and Shivambu ben­e­fit­ing or re­ceiv­ing funds from what is called the “Great Bank Heist”.

EFF leader Julius Malema is set to ad­dress me­dia on Tues­day. Busi­ness Day sent ques­tions to Shivambu af­ter de­tails from the foren­sic re­port pub­lished by ad­vo­cate Terry Mo­tau into the fail­ure of VBS re­vealed his brother, Brian, had re­ceived in ex­cess of R16m in the form of “gra­tu­itous pay­ments”.

Mo­tau said Brian Shivambu, per­son­ally and through an en­tity in his con­trol, re­ceived money from VBS “for no ap­par­ent rea­son. We have not in­ter­viewed him, or seen him. He was one of many names that re­ceived money with­out any ap­par­ent cause,” Mo­tau said.

One al­le­ga­tion is that Brian Shivambu may have been fronting for his brother Floyd and the EFF, re­ceiv­ing pay­ments for “open­ing doors” to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that may have de­posited money with VBS.

Brian Shivambu is­sued a state­ment on Thurs­day say­ing he had no link to VBS and had never met with any mu­nic­i­pal­ity or de­pos­i­tor to en­cour­age them to de­posit money into the bank.

He said he had never been con­tacted by the in­ves­ti­ga­tors, and threat­ened to take le­gal ac­tion against the “own­ers of the VBS re­port” for de­fam­ing him and his com­pany.

“I am aware that my brother’s name has been raised in re­la­tion to this mat­ter. I am a pri­vate busi­ness­man and I do not in­tend to in­volve my­self or my fam­ily in po­lit­i­cal de­bates,” he said.

Daily Mav­er­ick re­ported on Thurs­day that the EFF had al­legedly re­ceived R1.3m “il­le­gally flow­ing” from VBS into the party’s bank ac­count. It also re­ported that Brian Shivambu had al­legedly fun­nelled about R10m through his com­pany into Floyd’s per­sonal bank ac­count.

The EFF had a real op­por­tu­nity this week to show SA’s vot­ers that it holds it­self and its mem­bers to the same high stan­dards it de­mands of gov­ern­ment lead­ers. How­ever, the party, which iden­ti­fies it­self as a cham­pion for the rights of the poor and marginalised, is com­pletely blow­ing that chance.

The EFF’s re­ac­tion to the SA Re­serve Bank’s re­port on the R2bn loot­ing of VBS Mu­tual Bank — which names the brother of its deputy pres­i­dent Floyd Shivambu as a ben­e­fi­ciary of R16m in “gra­tu­itous pay­ments” from the bank — can best be de­scribed as a to­tal cop-out.

The party re­sorted to a strat­egy long used by the ANC in re­spond­ing to damn­ing find­ings made by the pub­lic pro­tec­tor, au­di­tor-gen­eral or other over­sight bod­ies: re­fer the al­leged wrong­do­ing to law en­force­ment and avoid any re­spon­si­bil­ity in hold­ing your own se­nior lead­ers ac­count­able.

In a state­ment re­leased late on Wed­nes­day night, the EFF made no spe­cific men­tion of Shivambu’s brother, and did not say it would con­duct its own in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Bank’s damn­ing find­ings. Nor did it re­spond to ques­tions about whether the party’s, and par­tic­u­larly Shivambu’s, at­tack on the Bank for plac­ing VBS un­der cu­ra­tor­ship — which en­able the in­ves­ti­ga­tion — had in any way been driven by Shivambu's ap­par­ent per­sonal in­ter­est in VBS.

In­stead, the EFF re­it­er­ated that “all who are re­spon­si­ble and il­le­gally ben­e­fited from the fraud must be crim­i­nally pros­e­cuted im­me­di­ately” and “black­listed”.

“Above all,”. the party added, “the law en­force­ment agen­cies must do all they can to en­sure that all the money that can be re­cov­ered must be paid back in full, in­clud­ing at­tach­ing prop­er­ties of the in­di­vid­u­als who ben­e­fited from the de­fraud­ing of the VBS.”

The ex­pe­di­ency of that an­swer must be seen in light of an al­most universal aware­ness of the Hawks’ and Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Author­ity’s ap­par­ent in­ca­pa­bil­ity to in­ves­ti­gate and pros­e­cute se­ri­ous com­mer­cial crime and cor­rup­tion. Even if such an in­ves­ti­ga­tion is un­der­taken, it will take years to be fi­nalised. So re­ly­ing on a dys­func­tional crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem is a cyn­i­cal and ex­pe­di­ent way for the EFF to kick this fes­ter­ing can of al­leged fraud fur­ther down the road.

It also seems the party has no in­ten­tion of hold­ing Shivambu to ac­count for the very pub­lic way he went af­ter Trea­sury deputy di­rec­tor­gen­eral Is­mail Momo­niat in par­lia­ment. Momo­niat helped to place VBS un­der cu­ra­tor­ship.

Just months af­ter the Trea­sury had made that de­ci­sion, Shivambu at­tacked Momo­niat for not be­ing African. “Our is­sue that is of gen­uine po­lit­i­cal con­cern is that Na­tional Trea­sury is led by a direc­tor-gen­eral who is an African. But there it looks like there are de­lib­er­ate at­tempts to un­der­mine African lead­er­ship in Na­tional Trea­sury,” he stated. He later added: “I’m say­ing he is un­der­min­ing African lead­er­ship!”

The EFF also re­leased a state­ment that slammed “opt­ing for cu­ra­tor­ship” of VBS as un­der­min­ing the bank, and said it “un­der­mines black peo­ple’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the own­er­ship and con­trol of fi­nan­cial ser­vices in­sti­tu­tions”.

The party’s Mbuyiseni Nd­lozi fur­ther stated: “The EFF is aware that VBS is be­ing vic­timised due to a loan it gave to Ja­cob Zuma for a house in Nkandla. Had it been a white-owned bank that had of­fered Zuma a loan, they would not be sub­ject to vic­tim­i­sa­tion to­day.”

The party has not yet com­mented whether its lead­er­ship had any knowl­edge that Shivambu had a per­sonal in­ter­est in the bank not be­ing placed un­der cu­ra­tor­ship or its ap­par­ent loot­ing not be­ing in­ves­ti­gated when it made these state­ments,.

What makes the EFF’s si­lence even more dis­turb­ing is how re­sound­ingly it con­trasts with its vo­cal calls for the fir­ing of former fi­nance min­is­ter Nhlanhla Nene hours be­fore the VBS foren­sic re­port was made pub­lic.

On Tues­day, party of­fi­cials such as Nd­lozi cel­e­brated the an­nounce­ment that Nene had stepped down from his po­si­tion, fol­low­ing ev­i­dence to the Zondo com­mis­sion of in­quiry that showed he had lied to the me­dia about hav­ing mul­ti­ple meet­ings with the Gupta fam­ily.

Nene also came un­der fire over his son’s deal­ings with the state-owned Pub­lic In­vest­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (PIC) — which man­ages the pen­sions of hun­dreds of thou­sands of pub­lic ser­vants — while the former fi­nance min­is­ter was chair of the PIC. A se­nior of­fi­cial at the PIC re­signed over the VBS scan­dal. There are also al­le­ga­tions that PIC CEO Dan Matjila re­ceived a R5m bribe from VBS.

In re­sponse to the al­le­ga­tions about his son’s PIC deal­ings, Nene de­nied us­ing his po­si­tion to ben­e­fit his fam­ily. How­ever, the EFF were un­con­vinced and wrote to Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa to de­mand that Nene be fired.

“Nene has lied on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions about his role in cabi­net and gov­ern­ment. He has also fa­cil­i­tated the cap­ture of the state by the crim­i­nal Gupta syndicate,” Nd­lozi stated.

“The EFF is of the view that, in the cur­rent ‘dif­fi­cult’ eco­nomic times, SA does not need a min­is­ter of fi­nance with a ‘ques­tion­able char­ac­ter’ and ‘un­eth­i­cal con­duct’.”

Fol­low­ing Nene’s res­ig­na­tion, the EFF called on Ramaphosa to fire other cabi­net min­is­ters for “un­eth­i­cal” con­duct.

“Ramaphosa must ap­ply the same con­sis­tency with other min­is­ters who con­tinue to serve in his cabi­net, like Malusi Gi­gaba, Nomvula Mokonyane and Batha­bile Dlamini,” Nd­lozi said in a state­ment.

Hours af­ter that state­ment was re­leased, the VBS re­port was pub­lished.

The EFF faces one of the most defin­ing mo­ments in its young his­tory. It is a party that made a name for it­self in its un­wa­ver­ing cam­paign to hold the coun­try's po­lit­i­cal un­touch­ables to ac­count. Now it ap­pears to be un­will­ing to do even the mildest in­ter­ro­ga­tion of its own lead­er­ship.

It is not good enough for any po­lit­i­cal party to de­fer re­spon­si­bil­ity to in­ves­ti­gate al­leged wrong­do­ing within, or close to, its ranks to law en­force­ment.

Par­tic­u­larly in cir­cum­stances where the power and pub­lic pro­file of that party have been used to at­tack a le­git­i­mate process and in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

If the EFF fails to deal with these is­sues truth­fully and con­vinc­ingly, it will in­evitably fuel ques­tions about the party’s out­spo­ken crit­i­cism of in­sti­tu­tions or of­fi­cials and whether it is gen­uinely driven by a de­sire to fight the cause of SA’s most vul­ner­a­ble and down­trod­den.

Or whether it is just an­other hid­den weapon, in an­other dirty war.

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