The release of the report on the investigation into VBS Bank has exposed a serious lack of political judgment by some seasoned politicians.
If it’s not Mmusi Maimane looking for mud to throw at President Cyril Ramaphosa, it’s one of the leaders of his party releasing an unverified letter which sought to provide a link between Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema and VBS. But the worst of it all is when an advocate as brilliant as Dali Mpofu offers the lamest of defences for what has been alleged in the report to be a link between VBS money and the EFF’s second in command, Floyd Shivambu.
Mpofu seeks to create the impression that the allegation that money from VBS went to Shivambu’s younger brother, Brian, and then to him needs no explanation. “My sister gave me R20 this morning, I’m yet to provide an explanation for it,” he joked about the allegation.
The EFF’s national chairperson even went biblical in Shivambu’s defence, saying “I’m not my brother’s keeper”, suggesting he does not have to explain his younger brother’s actions.
That’s a very naive view. No evidence of criminality has been established. All the report says is that there is a money trail from VBS to Brian to Floyd. Nothing more. Why the strenuous denials then?
The answer is simple. The EFF have held themselves up to be very different from the ruling ANC. They have been the champions of exposing corrupt activities by ANC politicians since they arrived on the political scene.
Who can forget their chant in parliament exhorting then president Jacob Zuma to “pay back the money” from the Nkandla debacle? They were also central to keeping the Zuma-Gupta relationship fresh in people’s minds. And in a way they led the public protector to do the investigation that led to the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture which has already claimed its first scalp with the resignation of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister.
Again, it was the EFF that first alleged a link between Nene and the Gupta compound in Saxonwold. And they were right.
They have set themselves up as having the moral high ground over the ANC. This is why Mpofu came out guns blazing in defence of Floyd. The EFF cannot afford to have its political capital demolished by links to alleged corrupt practices.
It doesn’t matter to Mpofu that Floyd’s brother is an EFF official. It also doesn’t matter that the party is alleged to have received at least R1.3 million of VBS money.
The EFF has gone into a “deny, deny, deny” mode to make sure that come the 2019 general elections they can go into campaigning with the upper hand on the moral front. But these vigorous denials of an allegation in a report that has nothing to do with guilt or innocence may actually make the voting public wonder why they are being so defensive.
The best that any politician mentioned in the report can do is to wait to be confronted with evidence of wrongdoing, if there is any.
Flimsy defences such as “I’m not my brother’s keeper” will not fly. Advocate Mpofu knows very well that getting R20 from his sister is totally different from getting R10 million in what has been labelled a heist by the author of the report.