Alex Japho Matlala
4 minute read
7 Dec 2021
12:37 pm

Alleged VBS ‘thieves’ return as Limpopo MMCs, say opposition parties

Alex Japho Matlala

Parties say many newly elected ANC chief whips, speakers and MMCs are being investigated for VBS corruption.

ANC Limpopo secretary Soviet Lekganyane. Picture: Japho Matlala

Opposition parties have accused the ANC in Limpopo of rewarding its councillors for committing crimes, after a sizeable number of party big shots were appointed as members of mayoral committees (MMCs), despite having dark clouds hanging over their heads.

Among the MMCs, some have been fingered for contravening the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) and for investing municipal funds into the collapsed VBS Mutual Bank.

Opposition parties said municipal funds would still not be safe in the hands of those who allegedly stole money to invest in VBS.

Between 2016 and 2017, about 11 municipalities in Limpopo ignored the National Treasury ban on councils investing public funds into a mutual bank.

ALSO READ: Hawks arrest three more suspects over VBS Bank scandal

The councils invested R1.5 billion in total – money which was never returned back to the municipalities after the bank faced liquidation.

In light of this, Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha fired seven mayors for oversight failures during the irregular investments. The same happened to the chief finance officers and municipal managers whose councils invested with the bank.

‘New lease on life’ thanks to ANC

“Now we are baffled that instead of facing prison, the ANC gives them a new lease on life,” said general secretary for the Bolsheviks political party of South Africa, Seun Mogotji.

“We expected all those who invested with the bank to be left in the cold, pending the outcome of the investigations into the VBS saga.”

Mogotji was speaking just after the swearing-in of the executive mayor for the Sekhukhune District Municipality, Keamotseng Stanley Ramaila, in Groblersdal.

“We wish to congratulate the newly elected executive mayor. However, we are unimpressed by certain members of his committee, who are implicated in the VBS saga.

“We therefore cannot take Ramaila serious when he claims he will fight corruption in the municipality because those [at] the helm are proven thieves,” said Mogotji.

ALSO READ: Limpopo ANC bigwig wants separate trial as VBS fraud case postponed

According to Mogotji, the composition of members of Ramaila’s mayoral committee and committee heads is comprised of known VBS-tainted ANC leaders.

He said most of them were still being probed by the Hawks and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) for their hand in the illicit VBS investments.

Mogotji said they were now being returned to run council committees, despite their alleged wayward behaviour.

“We don’t want them because we cannot trust them with our money,” he said.

No trust for ‘riffraff’

During a sitting of the Vhembe District Municipality on Thursday, a wave of discontent passed through the crowded council chamber when some of those suspected to have had a hand in the VBS investments where appointed to chair council committees.

Some were elected as municipal public accounts committee chairs, chief whips and speakers.

“You see now, they are trying to bring back these riffraff through the backdoor. These are the same people who squandered our money. Some of us now are as poor as church rats because they stole our money through the VBS.

“These are heartless and senseless people who should rot in jail,” said a municipal official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

But an ANC veteran, who also asked for his name to be withheld for fear of victimisation, had a different view on the matter.

“What happened to the notion of one is innocent until proven guilty by the court of law? The long arms of the law might take time to grind but slowly and surely, they will soon face the music,” the veteran said.

ALSO READ: No work, R2m pay for VBS-linked manager

Speaking to The Citizen at the sidelines of the inaugurations, Limpopo ANC secretary Soviet Lekganye said the party was deeply worried about the so-called rogue VBS-tainted individuals

“Look now, we have the Nandoni Dam just a stone-throw away from the town. The construction of the dam, which is most of the times full to capacity, was completed more than 10 years ago.

“But just because some of these guys stole the money through VBS, our people do not have water in their communities and on their doorstep.

“I agree that we are dealing with arrogant ANC members here, who just want to hold the organisation at ransom, members of the ANC who want to resist the renewal of the organisation, members who don’t care about the well-being of the people as they have taken the money that was supposed to improve the lives of the people to VBS.

“We see them and we are watching them,” said Lekganyane.

READ NEXT: Limpopo ANC appoints bigwigs in bid to fight corruption