NEWS & ANALYSIS

VBS: Holomisa's allegations groundless - Zweli Mkhize

Minister says he never advised municipalities to invest funds in the mutual bank

RESPONSE BY COGTA MINISTER DR ZWELI MKHIZE TO VBS ALLEGATIONS MADE ON TV CHANNEL

I have seen snippets of the interview on the ENCA television news channel by General Bantu Holomisa, which makes allegations about presentations made to me about the VBS Mutual bank.

I wish to categorically reject the allegations made by the leader of UDM that I advised municipalities to invest funds in the VBS Mutual Bank. The allegations are totally untrue. I discovered information about such investments in the media when the stories broke. I had no knowledge of the matter before then.

I want to state clearly with no form of hesitation, that when I was Treasurer-General of the ANC, various companies, both listed and unlisted, big and small business, requested meetings with me.

They presented their business plans to me, their future plans and various areas of interest. My role was mainly to engage them on ANC policies with regards to growing the economy, job creation and the role their businesses can play in transforming the economy.

Some businesses came to my office, while others invited me to formally meet and address them at their company premises. I have many pictures and videos which will attest to this and I am willing to share them should I be required to do so. The insinuation that when I engaged with business it was with an unscrupulous intention of doing them a favour or using undue to influence for them to secure work, contracts or deals with government departments, municipalities or state owned entities is false, unfounded and demeaning.

Individuals and companies make donations to the ANC or any other political party for that matter, freely. This can never be done as a repayment of a favour.

That would be unethical and corrupt. I want to specifically state and categorically deny that I ever engaged either the PIC or any municipality to support VBS Mutual Bank. Having gone through my 2016 diary, I can confirm that I was once invited to VBS offices where they introduced themselves and their business to me without seeking a single from me. In fact at the time I commended them for playing a role in the realization of a black bank in South Africa.

They themselves did not even request me to arrange any meetings or do anything on their behalf except to present their business model and strategy. I did not have any other engagement with them thereafter. It can also be verified with the Office of the ANC TG if they ever participated in any of the ANC fundraising events. Those activities are formal and public. Such monies are properly recorded and disclosed to the ANC leadership. If any other funds were exchanged with VBS in the name of the ANC while I was still the TG of the organisation, I am quite keen for this to be disclosed in full so we can expose such scams publicly.

When I occupied the Office of the TG I became aware of instances where the name of the ruling party or office of the TG was used by individuals to serve their interests. Sometimes fraudulent documents were presented to make such claims. Actions have always been taken whenever such fraudulent activity was discovered.

Government has instituted an investigation into the VBS matter and as the Minister responsible for local government I have called for consequences for those who may have broken the law in any way regarding this matter.

I fully support the investigations and processes being undertaken by the South African Reserve Bank, the Auditor-General as well as the SA Police Service into this matter. I have assigned senior COGTA officials to work with the Auditor General and the National Treasury, and to regularly meet with the SA Reserve Bank and share information to ensure the success of the investigations. We are determined to get to the bottom of this because the loss of RI, 5 billion of municipal funds is a serious loss that negatively impact on service delivery.

I met with the Mayors and senior officials of the affected municipalities in Pretoria on the 19th of June in Pretoria and the following was agreed to as actions to be taken:

Provincial CoGTA departments and the affected municipalities would work on recovery plans to augment possible service delivery disruptions due to possible loss of investment.

Municipalities would fully disclose the VBS investment on their financial books and also inform their communities about the measures in place to mitigate service delivery challenges.

All involved municipalities would report to CoGTA on actions taken against officials who have transgressed the law.

This is a serious matter which does not require mischief and grandstanding. If the UDM leader has information on the VBS matter, he should assist the government agencies that are investigating.

Statement issued by the Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, 30 June 2018