VBS Mutual bank customers at long queues outside the bank, demanding their money in Thohoyandou, Limpopo. Picture: ANTONIO MUCHAVE/SOWETAN
VBS Mutual bank customers at long queues outside the bank, demanding their money in Thohoyandou, Limpopo. Picture: ANTONIO MUCHAVE/SOWETAN

In yet another move of cleaning up the ranks of the governing party, the ANC in Gauteng has referred the two mayors of municipalities who invested money in the VBS Mutual Bank to the party’s provincial integrity committee.

The announcement of the referral on Thursday comes in the wake of a decision by the party's Limpopo provincial executive to axe seven  of its mayors implicated in scandal.  The ANC’s North West provincial executive  also gave seven of its mayors marching orders — some in relation to the VBS investment saga.

The two mayors in Gauteng, Maphefo Letsie from the Merafong Local Municipality and Boyce Maneli from the West Rand District Municipality, will however remain in their posts during the investigations..

On Thursday provincial secretary Jacob Khawe told journalists that the ANC’s provincial executive committee had discussed the municipalities which had invested funds with VBS.  It then decided to refer the two mayors to the provincial integrity committee.

“The ANC views the plunder of VBS in a serious light,” Khawe said.

He said he had asked the integrity commission to set up dates for early January to deal with the issue.

The West Rand District Municipality and Merafong Local Municipality deposited R81m and R50m, respectively into the now liquidated bank. The bank still had the funds of 14 municipalities in Limpopo, North West and Gauteng in its accounts when it was placed under curatorship in March.

The alleged role of political players in the collapse of VBS was laid bare in a forensic report compiled by advocate Terry Motau and Werksmans Attorneys in October.

The move by the ANC to act against its political deployees embroiled in the scandal was seen as part of the clean-up in the party ahead of the 2019 elections.

Gauteng is expected to be the main electoral battleground, with opposition parties hoping to take over the province. The party’s provincial leadership however says it is “combat-ready and fit for the 2019 elections”.

Gauteng ANC chair David Makhura said the provincial leadership has looked into whether the political leaders had instructed the mayors to invest in the bank.

“They owe an explanation to the integrity commission,” Makhura said.

However, he added that as far as  they had established so far the decisions in the West Rand in were taken by administratorsand not  by the politicians.

Makhura said the integrity commission focused not only on ethics, but was also concerned with accountability. “Sometimes you may find that the integrity  committee says yes, there’s nothing you did wrong, but these things happened under your watch,” Makhura said, adding that the ANC places an emphasis on accountability.

 DA Gauteng spokesperson on finance, Ashor Sarupen criticised the ANC’s decision  to refer the two mayors to the integrity committee first instead of firing them..

He said the DA would be tabling questions to both finance MEC Barbara Creecy and the premier over their “failure to act on their VBS mayors when other provinces have fired their VBS mayors”.