EFF must probe Shivambu’s role in VBS, says Madonsela
The party was key in investigating others, now it must use the same standards on itself
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela has urged the EFF to conduct its own internal forensic investigation into the VBS Mutual Bank scandal and probe if its deputy president, Floyd Shivambu, was aware of his brother’s alleged involvement in it.
A report commissioned by the Reserve Bank found that Brian Shivambu received R16m in “gratuitous payments” from VBS, as part of a nearly R2bn “looting” of the bank, which serviced multiple municipalities.
Brian Shivambu has denied any wrongdoing. He maintains his company Sgameka Projects was appointed in 2017 to “provide professional consulting services to Vele Investments in their mining and insurance businesses” and was paid for these services through a VBS account.
Vele Investments is the majority shareholder of VBS Mutual Bank. Madonsela says the amount paid to Brian Shivambu’s company was “huge” and should potentially have raised “red flags” with his brother. “Sometimes people are caught between maintaining the appearance of being good and actually being good, and sometimes being good means disclosing that you’re not faultless,” Madonsela told Business Day in an interview.
“And in this case, of course, I think the EFF would have to have its own internal forensic investigation, to look at the extent to which Mr Shivambu knew, or should have known, that his brother’s company could not have been competent enough to have amassed that amount…
“They would then have to question him [Shivambu] around whether there could have been red flags around the fact that your brother has just started this company and he now has this surplus.”
The EFF insists that anyone guilty of wrongdoing in the VBS scandal must face the full might of the law and have their assets seized to ensure the recovery of stolen money. But Madonsela says the party cannot — like the ANC under former president Jacob Zuma — ignore its own obligations to properly investigate alleged ethical breaches by its leadership in relation to this alleged looting.
“They’re finding themselves in the same spot as the ANC and it seems to me that they’re resorting to the same tactics as the ANC,” said Madonsela.
“But what you are required to be, to be a public representative, is not to be a criminal. What you are required to be, to be a public representative — in terms of section 195 of our constitution — is to be ethical. You’re supposed to be the type of person who does the right thing.
“I think they [the EFF] will have to decide whether they want to continue to present themselves as a paragon of ethics … and they’re then the same as the ANC was then, saying: forget about ethics, all we care about is the criminal justice system and we know it takes forever, therefore our people can remain on board.”
How the EFF responds to these allegations, she suggested, needs to centre on its ethical obligations.
Over the weekend, Floyd Shivambu strongly denied having any dealings with or receiving R10m from VBS‚ referring to attempts to link the EFF to the bank as “disingenuous and patently weak”.
The EFF has been outspoken in its criticism of the Reserve Bank’s decision to place VBS under curatorship, and suggested that the decision was racially motivated. Shivambu was at the forefront of that criticism, but maintains: “I have no dealings with VBS and any attempt to link the EFF to the bank for cheap political points is a clear sign of desperation and soon enough people will see through it.”
He further maintains that “while the collapse of VBS was due to fraud and looting‚ it was also due to regulatory failure of the SARB [SA Reserve Bank]‚ which fails to independently verify the capital adequacy of [the] bank but placed undue faith in auditing companies despite warnings about the complicity of auditors in corruption”.
The EFF said it would hold a media conference on Tuesday to further address questions linked to the VBS saga. Madonsela said EFF leader Julius Malema had played a significant part in her state capture investigation. She said he had both provided her with the names of ministers allegedly implicated in state capture and brought her a potentially crucial witness: a Gupta family employee “who had even taken down the number plates of the cars who had come in” to the Saxonwold compound.
Speaking about the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture, which was appointed following her “State of Capture” report, Madonsela said she was “surprised” that Zuma had to provide any responses to the evidence against him.
“I’m actually surprised. Because the president vilified me for never giving him a chance. Now he’s been given a golden opportunity to state his case — in fact to attack, paragraph by paragraph, everything I said and put his version, and he doesn’t seem to have an appetite for that. I’m surprised really.”
Her impression, she said, was that Zuma “doesn’t want to perjure himself”.