Rampant financial looting rips the poor
While finger pointing, name shaming and defending those implicated took centre stage this week, it was ordinary South Africans and vulnerable gogos who stood outside the doors of the beleaguered bank waiting for their money.
The cold facts of the controversial VBS Mutual Bank ‘heist’ is that the almost R2billion reportedly looted was clients’ life savings and deposits, along with millions of rands deposited by municipalities.
Yet again, those who faced the brunt of maladministration, fraud, mismanagement and poor governance were the poorest of the poor and already overstretched taxpayers. Government funds which could have been channelled to improve the lives of South Africans were squandered and the question is: who will be held accountable?
The independent report commissioned by the SA Reserve Bank to probe the collapse of the mutual bank found there was ‘wide-scale looting and pillaging of the monies placed on deposit at VBS’.
The report labelled a list of 50 people who ‘gratuitously’ received cash from VBS over a three-year period, commencing in March 2015.
The irony is that looting and inefficiency have the same effect. The problem with South African leadership is that we are constantly taking reactive steps to solve glaring governance oversight.
Sins of omission or commission, poor administration and banking inefficiencies brought about the bank’s downfall.
Poor decision-making, failure to conduct system checks and balances and gross negligence were at the root of the collapse.
As employees of the embattled financial institution received letters terminating their employment this week, the curator team said VBS had suffered losses in the last financial year as a result of ‘mismanagement as well as acts of fraud committed by the employer’s leadership’.
At what point of the R2-billion looting did authorities realise there was no coming back from this?
A fiduciary is supposed to be ‘an individual in whom another has placed the utmost trust and confidence to manage and protect property or money. It is the relationship wherein one person has an obligation to act for another’s benefit.’
Peoples’ trust in the South African banking and financial sector has been broken.
The sad reality is that it is probably safer to revert to keeping one’s savings under the mattress, because if this sort of looting does not end, the end result will be a crisis such as Zimbabwe is facing.
The harsh reality is that the ‘fat cats’ at the helm, under the pretense of fighting for the poor, are getting flabbier by the day and the lean man on the street is barely scraping to survive.
We do not need another commission of enquiry which is another futile and expensive exercise. What we need is to see the perpetrators facing the full might of the law.
It is always the poor who bear the brunt of fat cat misdemeanours, writes RONELLE RAMSAMY