POLITICIANS LOOTING THE MONEY OF THE POOR THROUGH THE VBS BANK
It looks like the ruling party’ s politicians have read less of Steve Biko’s I Write What I Like and Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, but a lot more of James Hardley Chase’s The World in My Pocket.
That is the impression you get when you read Adv Terry Motau’s VBS Mutual Bank Report that goes under the catchy title of The Great Bank Heist. It is not only the title that resembles the book titles of Chase, but even the plot is a breath-taking thriller of the proportions of Chase’s plots. The tragedy with the VBS Bank plot is that billions of Rand of poor Black people have been stolen by rich and connected politicians for whom our people voted.
We are here talking about pensioners in the deep rural areas of South Africa. This Mutual Bank shot into prominence in 2016 after it rescued the troubled former President Jacob Zuma with a controversial loan of R7.8 million to pay his Nkandla scandalous debt. It did not make business sense just how a Mutual Bank could be plunging into such a risk. But soon afterwards, 14 municipalities from the Gauteng, North West and Limpopo deposited about R1.5 billion of the public funds into the VBS Mutual (not commercial) Bank despite the fact that those transactions were illegal in terms of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA).
The Motau Report reveals that the ANC politicians have looted about R2 billion of the money of poor Black people. The collusion between KPMG’s auditors and VBS Bank left the poor rural Black People of Limpopo high and dry. Instead of reporting the observable malfeasance that was manifest at the bank, KPMG reported no irregularities, deepening the bank’s risk exposure and left its books in disarray. Development projects in the various municipalities came to a standstill because the ANC-led government allowed the public purse to be diverted to the private pockets of their members and some political organisations. The Report fingers an ANC Limpopo Provincial Treasurer Danny Msiza as the “kingpin’ of the scheme. The 53 shady characters that stole the people’s money include VhaVenda King Toni Mphephu who is said to have pocketed R17.7 million.
When there were calls for the VBS Mutual Bank to be liquated or put under curatorship when it experienced liquidity challenges, the EFF was loudly vocal in defence of the Bank. The organisation stated that VBS was a “bank of black people”, which should have been saved. That voice sounded legit until this week when The Great Bank Heist Report revealed that EFF member Brian Shivambu, who is also the brother of the EFF’s Deputy President Floyd Shivambu, also stole about R16 million from the money of poor Black people.
On 11 October 2018 the Daily Maverick went further and stated that Floyd Shivambu’s EFF “has allegedly received R1.3 million illegally from VBS Mutual Bank into the party’s bank account”. The Daily Maverick also writes that “Floyd Shivambu’s younger brother, Brian, allegedly funnelled around R10 million through a company called Sgameka Projects into Floyd’s personal bank account”.
On Wednesday night Adv Motau SC told an ENCA anchor that their Terms of Reference were limited to tracing and following the money flowing into the VBS Mutual Bank, and the one flowing out. But they could not go beyond the immediate entity or person who received money from the bank. He then expressed hope that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) would conduct thorough investigations beyond the imposed limiting Terms of Reference and recover all the money, while unleashing the might of the law against the culprits.
As things go, it may not be unlikely that about two thirds of the Members of Parliament and the Executive may go to jail. In only a Quarter of a Century, the ruling party has run the country’s economy down the drain. That is all the reason why the voter must take Azania out of the pockets of corrupt politicians.
What type of a country is this where the politicians can mismanage the economy and steal the taxpayers’ money without any consequences? Presidents violate their oath and the Constitution without any consequences. Parliaments abdicate their Constitutional duty of holding the Executive accountable without any consequences. Politicians steal the public money and get rewarded with “deployments” into higher and more paying offices. Cabinet Ministers lie under oath without any consequences.
The masses and the voters must work with AZAPO to fulfil Biko’s noble mission of “bestowing upon South Africa a more human face”.
THE ANC’S ECONOMIC DISNEY LAND
In any government, and more so in a capitalist system, a Finance Minister is one of the important Cabinet Ministers. She is the one who must have the business appeal to massage the egos of the markets and investors. The capitalist markets are known to be addicted to certainty. Any disruptive uncertainty negatively affects investor confidence in the economy.
There seems to be no indication that the ruling party that has boastingly adopted a capitalist line knows this. In 2015 the ANC-led government plunged the economy into a man-made crisis of 3 Finance Ministers in 4 days! On 9 December 2015 then President Jacob Zuma issued a statement in the thick of the night at 20h00 announcing that he had fired Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene. He also announced that he had appointed an “unknown” David van Rooyen to that position. The Rand went down by 1,39% against the Dollar to R14.83. By 10 December 2015 the Rand continued to lose weight down to R16 to the Dollar. Caving in under pressure, on 13 December 2018 Zuma fired van Rooyen and appointed Pravin Gordhan as Finance Minister, a position he had held before.
Excluding the depreciation of the Rand, Alec Hogg of BizNews.com calculated the loss in equities and bonds to R500 billion!
What we just narrated is a sorry picture of how the ruling party mismanaged the economy, and continues to do so with impunity. As if that was not enough, on 31 March 2017 Zuma fired yet another Finance Minister called Pravin Gordhan, and replaced him with a controversial Malusi Gigaba – a “novice” in the finance space. Before he enjoyed the honeymoon, Gigaba was fired in February 2018 and replaced by the resurfacing of Nene.
Yes, you guessed it. Nene has been fired once again and replaced by Tito Mboweni who has been dug out of retirement and hurriedly dusted to serve as Finance Minister. Of course, Nene offered to be relieved of his duties after it came out that he lied by claiming he never met the Guptas. It surfaced that he actually met them between 2010 and 2014 in their private residence when he was first Deputy Finance Minister and full Minister. There are now understandable suspicions that Nene may have been promoted to a full Ministerial position after he promised to be a good boy to the Guptas.
If we take into account the fact that the term of this Cabinet expires in 2019, then it means there may be a Finance Minister other than Mboweni. In that disastrous case, South Africa will have had 7 Finance Ministers in 4 Years! That’s an economic catastrophe of astronomical proportions.
THE PEOPLE AND NOT THE MARKETS SHOULD APPROVE MBOWENI
So the country has a new Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni. The Rand, that is as stable as a yoyo, rallied, suggesting that the appointment of Mboweni has the support of the markets.
Using the revolutionary analytical tool of the late Pan Africanist in the diaspora, Kware Toure, which states: “Oppose what the enemy supports, and support what the enemy opposes,” some have already suggested that the fact that the markets responded positively to Mboweni’s appointment is proof that he is bad news for the poor and the working class.
Creating an artificial separation between the Finance Minister and the government is a tactic that the ruling party has employed for many years. Currently, the Zondo Commission is investigating what has become known as State Capture. Again, in that Commission there has been a tactic of creating a distinction between former President Jacob Zuma and the ruling party. The fact that Zuma was the president of the ruling party, and therefore the ultimate custodian of the policies and ethics of the ANC, is conveniently ignored. All that was evil and smelled of Gupta aroma is blamed on Zuma, and the other leaders of the ruling party try hard to plead ignorance.
Back to Mboweni. The dominant narrative is that Mboweni has the respect of the markets and that he is likely to help the economy get out of the current crisis. This is misplaced confidence. Mboweni, just like his predecessor Nhlanhla Nene, has no policies of his own. He implements policies of the ruling party. Whether he succeeds or not, is a function of the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the policies that the ruling party develops and implement.
But the key test of his success should not be the markets. The people of this country, the voters are the ones who should be impressed by the performance of the ruling party in fighting poverty, creating employment and reducing levels of inequality. That should be the real test. And looking at the track record of the ruling party’s governance, AZAPO states it upfront that it is not optimistic at all.
However, just like shareholders in a company, the voters have the powers to fire non-performing executives. It is that simple. Voters should be reminded that they should not settle for leaders just because those leaders have approval ratings of international bodies such as the IMF and the World Bank and the amorphous markets. They should settle for leaders placed in their positions by parties that have a coherent plan to develop and implement an economic policy that will restore the dignity of the economically marginalised Black people. Delivery of basic services, jobs and land should be the test of performance.
THE RISING ANGER OF THE MASSES
This week a section of the Black community, that calls itself Coloured, marched on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) SE to demand jobs and inclusion in the mainstream of the economy. The rising anger against the political establishment started as a protest in Westbury outside Johannesburg against crime, gang violence and drugs. The movement quickly grew to other areas predominantly occupied by the so-called “Coloured” section of the Black community.
In general, what this section of our community is demanding is social and economic justice. They essentially want the same things that the so-called “Bantoe” section of the Black community wants – land, jobs and meaningful stake in the mainstream economy.
The march this week should serve as a reminder to the political aristocrats that as a country, we are sitting on a ticking time bomb. In 1994, people’s expectations were raised. The right to vote was extended to all, with Black people voting for the first time. Many thought that the political power would translate into economic freedom. A Quarter of a Century later, there is a crude realisation that we were sold a dummy. AZAPO warned the Azanian masses that the removal of apartheid was equal to the removal of scaffolding in the construction of the white economic power structure. Now that the white economic power structure is firm and complete, it no longer needs apartheid to support it.
When AZAPO urged the people to boycott the 1994 General Elections, it was not that we were party-spoilers. It was a tough, hard and painful decision. AZAPO had the clarity of thought that the Kempton Park sell-out deal would not deliver real freedom and liberation because it would not deliver on the basic demands of the liberation struggle – the return of the land to Black people and the redistribution of wealth to people.
For far too long, the government has been tinkling the belly of the elephant with a feather, somehow believing that it would kill the elephant. Of course, the elephant has not died and does not even show signs of being weak. In fact, it appears to be getting stronger and even more arrogant and dangerous. The white propertied class is getting even more arrogant now that they see that the ANC-led government is a barking dog with no teeth.
The economy still remains in white hands, and there is no clear plan to transform it. Each year, reports suggest that there is no movement in changing the boardrooms and the corridors of economic power in the country.
The various ingredients of a people’s revolution – poverty, unemployment, hopelessness, landlessness, misery and mistrust of the political leadership – are there.
Those in power ignore the rising anger of the masses at their peril.
To print and read the pdf version, please click here ⇒ AZAPO Voice Volume 1 Issue Number 33
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