Shivambu cries foul over VBS foren­sic re­port

Daily Dispatch - - Front Page - SILUSAPHO NYANDA, SIMTHANDILE FORD and ZIMASA MATIWANE

In a shock­ing turn of events, the EFF, cre­ators of the na­tional slo­gan “Pay back the money”, may it­self have to do so.

Brian Shivambu, brother of EFF deputy pres­i­dent Floyd Shivambu, was found this week to have re­ceived R16.1m from the looted VBS Mu­tual Bank.

Brian Shivambu has threat­ened to sue ad­vo­cate Terry Mo­tau SC, au­thor of the VBS Mu­tual Bank foren­sic re­port.

Brian has ad­mit­ted he did give money to Floyd, as he was com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing his brother wher­ever pos­si­ble.

Brian‚ who was ac­cused in the re­port, along with more than 50 oth­ers, of loot­ing the bank, said his name had been un­fairly dragged through the mud.

In a state­ment on Thurs­day‚ he said: “I in­tend to legally pur­sue the own­ers of the VBS re­port for defama­tion of my char­ac­ter and that of my com­pany, as well as for the strain [it] has caused to my fam­ily.”

Brian said the monies paid to his com­pany Sgameka Projects, were payments for ser­vices ren­dered to Vele In­vest­ments.

Brian said: “My com­pany‚ Sgameka Projects‚ was ap­pointed to pro­vide pro­fes­sional con­sult­ing ser­vices to Vele In­vest­ments in 2017.

“My com­pany did not have any busi­ness re­la­tion­ship‚ nor did it re­ceive money from VBS Mu­tual Bank.

“Vele In­vest­ments told me that since they bank with VBS, our com­pany and my­self as its di­rec­tor should open a bank ac­count with VBS Mu­tual Bank for ease of payments. Re­ceiv­ing money through a VBS ac­count does not mean that VBS paid me money.

“My brother Floyd is the deputy pres­i­dent of the EFF and not the owner of my busi­nesses.

“I com­mit­ted to him that I will give him sup­port‚ which I have done where pos­si­ble.” Brian said he was will­ing to co­op­er­ate with any in­ves­ti­ga­tions‚ but would seek to clear his name.

In his ini­tial me­dia state­ment‚ he said: “I pre­vi­ously worked for the EFF Stu­dents’ Com­mand as an ad­min­is­tra­tor af­ter I had been a vol­un­teer at the head of­fice since 2013. I left the em­ploy­ment of the EFF in June 2017 to fo­cus on my busi­ness in­ter­ests.”

He has since sent out a sec­ond state­ment in which this para­graph has been re­moved.

EFF East­ern Cape pro­vin­cial con­vener, Yazini Tetyana, said: “The na­tional of­fice [has] com­mu­ni­cated on the is­sue, please re­fer to that state­ment.”

The re­port rec­om­mends that more than 50 in­di­vid­u­als be crim­i­nally charged and held li­able in civil pro­ceed­ings.

On Wed­nes­day, the EFF re­leased a state­ment say­ing that “the law-en­force­ment agency 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 in­di­vid­u­als who ben­e­fited”.

Tito Mboweni is go­ing to be such fun to have as fi­nance min­is­ter. When he was labour min­is­ter he used to have peo­ple check­ing up on trans­for­ma­tion in news­rooms.

When he was Re­serve Bank gov­er­nor he re­fused to have his pic­ture taken at press con­fer­ences in case some­one caught a bead of sweat on his brow.

There’s a pic­ture of Mboweni us­ing a cloth to wipe his fore­head af­ter a par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult meet­ing of the mone­tary pol­icy com­mit­tee. It be­came the iconic “econ­omy in trou­ble” im­age for a while. It will soon re-emerge.

Hav­ing said that, he’s got balls. Soon af­ter he be­came Re­serve Bank gov­er­nor in 1999, the en­tire team of peo­ple at the Bank who ran the na­tional payments sys­tem, as he tells it, literally walked out, hop­ing per­haps to squeeze this iso­lated new black gov­er­nor into giv­ing them a pri­vate con­tract to con­tinue run­ning the sys­tem, with­out which nor­mal fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tions would have ground to a halt.

He found enough peo­ple at the Bank to muddle through. It is prob­a­bly why he once fa­mously said: “I have sought to re­cruit many com­pe­tent black peo­ple, and no sooner have we trained them than they leave. I get so up­set! I am stop­ping this recruitment of black peo­ple. I am okay with my Afrikan­ers. They stay and do the work.”

Typ­i­cal Mboweni, though now that he is fi­nance min­is­ter some peo­ple have sug­gested he might con­sider delet­ing his Twit­ter ac­count, which is full of odd­i­ties. I think he en­riches us and I’d miss the ac­count if he shut it down. But now he is at the Trea­sury, it seems out­ra­geous that he once tweeted an idea that the state should buy out the big four banks.

This might be a slightly mad idea, but the state own­ing a big bank isn’t. Post Of­fice CEO Mark Barnes sug­gested the same just a few days ago in the Sun­day Times. His point be­ing that it isn’t right that credit costs you more if you’re poor than if you’re well-off. Barnes is sort of Afrikaans. He and Mboweni would get on well.

The new fi­nance min­is­ter has also been prac­tis­ing lately as a sort of fa­ther fig­ure to younger politi­cians, in­clud­ing some in the EFF. On Septem­ber 9 he tweeted a pic­ture of him­self in a warm hold­ing of hands with Mbuyiseni Nd­lozi, the EFF spokesper­son.

So he will have Nd­lozi’s phone num­ber. Which is good be­cause on Wed­nes­day the Bank pub­lished its re­port on the loot­ing of money at VBS Mu­tual Bank in Mboweni’s (and Cyril Ramaphosa’s and Julius Malema’s) home prov­ince of Lim­popo, and it seems a great deal of the loot – R16.1m to be pre­cise – went to the brother of the deputy leader of the EFF, Floyd Shivambu.

This is not sur­pris­ing and is prob­a­bly just the tip of the ice­berg. Left-wing par­ties all over the world steal money to fi­nance them­selves. The ANC loots state-owned com­pa­nies and oil re­serves. In Italy and Spain the so­cial­ists set up bo­gus con­sult­ing com­pa­nies that pro­duce bo­gus re­ports that big busi­nesses buy if they want a look in at gov­ern­ment con­tracts. And the R16.1m VBS gave young Brian Shivambu would barely pay for a rally against, pick your topic – cap­i­tal­ism. Yet the EFF has been jump­ing up and down in its red suits ever since the Bank shut VBS down. Now we know why. It was fund­ing them.

This af­fects Mboweni be­cause as fi­nance min­is­ter he has the in­stru­ments at his dis­posal, namely su­per­vi­sion of the Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Cen­tre (FIC), to mon­i­tor the il­licit fund­ing of revo­lu­tion­ary – and not so revo­lu­tion­ary – po­lit­i­cal par­ties that may be break­ing the law to stay in busi­ness.

It would do Mboweni no harm at all to make a firm and early com­ment or ges­ture of sup­port to Terry Mo­tau, the ad­vo­cate ap­pointed by the Bank, to in­ves­ti­gate VBS.

“My re­port will re­veal that the per­pe­tra­tors of the heist at VBS made away with al­most R2bn,” Mo­tau said, ac­cord­ing to a re­port. More than 50 “per­sons of in­ter­est” were paid R1.89bn be­tween 2015 and 2018 and he calls for them to be crim­i­nally charged, for the money to be re­cov­ered and for VBS to be closed. “It is cor­rupt and rot­ten to the core,” says Mo­tau.

“In­deed, there is hardly a per­son in its em­ploy in any po­si­tion of author­ity who is not, in some way or other, com­plicit.”

This would be a good time for a new fi­nance min­is­ter to make known his dis­taste for cor­rup­tion and loot­ing.

He should in­struct his of­fi­cials to make them­selves avail­able to the Hawks for ad­vice in con­struct­ing crim­i­nal charges for what is ob­vi­ously theft on a grand scale. The mar­kets like Mboweni. He’s con­ser­va­tive and cau­tious. And, yes, prickly. But it’s a long time since he held pub­lic of­fice and SA is a fun­da­men­tally weak­ened econ­omy af­ter Ja­cob Zuma.

The coun­try would like to see Mboweni show a hand early. The VBS rob­bery is as de­cent a place to start as any.

A good time for a new fi­nance min­is­ter to make known his dis­taste for cor­rup­tion and loot­ing

BRIAN SHIVAMBU

FLOYD SHIVAMBU

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