Minister Mkhize refutes R2 million VBS cash to ANC

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JOHANNESBURG, October 31- South Africa’s Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize on Wednesday said he knows nothing about a R2 million cash given to the African National Congress (ANC) from the looted VBS Mutual Bank.

Mkhize, who was ANC treasurer from 2012 until his second term ended in 2017 under Jacob Zuma’s leadership, reiterated that he never facilitated the illegal investments into VBS by municipalities. The minister said he did meet the bank’s executives but that the meetings were about sharing the ANC’s transformation vision and never about exchanging favours.

”Let me state clearly that I have never exchanged any SMS correspondence requesting a donation for the ANC with any VBS director or representative. Any assertion to the contrary is false. I also did not request any form of donation in exchange for doing a favour for them, such as securing funding from state institutions or municipalities.,” Mkhize said in a statement on Wednesday.

”If any financial contribution was made to the ANC by VBS or any other company, this would have been without any influence or commitment from the ANC to do favours. I have no direct knowledge or personal recollection of the R2 million donation by VBS during my tenure as treasurer general as reported.”

The governing party was reportedly given a R2-million donation to fund its campaign for the 2016 local government elections by the executives at the now defunct bank.

Other ANC leaders implicated in the VBS scandal include Limpopo deputy chairwoman and Vhembe mayor Florence Radzilani, the party’s treasurer in Limpopo, Danny Masiza, and former ANC youth league leader Kabelo Matsepe.

This week, the ANC’s integrity commission, tasked with investigating party members accused of unethical behaviour such as corruption, said it has recommended to the ANC national executive committee that all members and leaders implicated in the of looting VBS resign and refrain from taking part in party activities.

Mkhize labelled the R2 million payment media report ”as defamatory and a fabrication devoid of any truth” and that it should not be believed. He said he was unaware of the VBS relationship with municipalities at the time he met with its executives.

”I only became aware of this relationship with municipalities and suspected fraud involving the VBS bank when this matter featured in the media earlier this year,” he added.

The ”Great Bank Heist” report by advocate Terry Motau found that there was “wide-scale looting and pillaging of the monies placed on deposit at VBS” over three years from March 2015.

The nearly R2 billion looted included clients’ life savings and deposits and around R1.5 billion deposited by municipalities, even though the Public Finance Management Act does not permit depositing public funds into a mutual bank. The investigation found that politicians deposited municipal funds in exchange for bribes.

VBS was placed under curatorship in March this year after it was found to be facing a liquidity crisis. The SA Reserve Bank on Tuesday announced that it was in the process of winding up of the bank.

”This [final winding up] is as a result of the fact that VBS is hopelessly insolvent and massive frauds have been perpetrated against it.  As a result, there is no prospect of entering into any resolution plan in respect of VBS,” the Reserve Bank said. (ANA)