President Jacob Zuma's upgraded Nkandla home. Picture: REUTERS/ROGAN WARD
President Jacob Zuma's upgraded Nkandla home. Picture: REUTERS/ROGAN WARD

Wilson Muvhulawa, one of the founders of VBS Bank in 1982, has hit out at allegations that former president Jacob Zuma received a R7.8m loan from the bank as a reward for supporting the coronation of Venda King Toni Ramabulana.

The bank was thrust into the limelight after the Reserve Bank placed it under curatorship, the first time the Reserve Bank has taken such a step since African Bank’s curatorship in 2014.

Muvhulawa told Business Day there was deep concern among some of the bank’s shareholders and investors that VBS Bank was being punished for the R7.8m loan it granted to Zuma in 2016 to repay the state for upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.

"Nobody has proved that former president [Zuma] had a hand in the coronation of King Ramabulana or can provide us with any empirical evidence.

"It is merely speculation in the media and among certain mischievous individuals. When we processed Zuma’s loan application, we never looked at his name or position in society. We said in our board meeting ‘remove the name Zuma and look at his application just as you would of any client’.

"We also informed the Reserve Bank about it. He qualified in all aspects. We are now attached to the Zuma name and I think it is unfair because he was merely a client of the bank," Muvhulawa said.

"The king is a shareholder in the bank but he did not influence the board to approve ... Zuma’s loan ... We scrutinised his loan application and made necessary checks and we were satisfied it qualified for approval."

"All this talk that he interfered in Venda affairs and was granted a loan on that basis is speculation and misleading."

"We suspect we are being targeted. VBS Bank is the fastest-growing bank in South Africa and we believe it is a threat to other banks. They are now trying by all means to keep us where we are.

"We cannot understand why National Treasury treated us this way when we are advancing the policy of radical economic transformation," he said.