South Africa News

Limpopo Premier called to account for Reserve bank recommendations in VBS heist

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Limpopo wants premier Stan Mathabatha to explain why remedial action recommended in the Great Bank Heist report by Reserve Bank advocate Terry Motau, which investigated wayward municipal investments in VBS Mutual Bank, had not been implemented, years later.

On Monday, the DA tabled a motion at the Limpopo Legislature, calling for a debate on the executives’ non-implementation of the recommendations in Mutau’s report.

From 2015 to 2018, 11 Limpopo municipalities deposited nearly R2 billion into VBS, most from the towns and villages with the worst records of service delivery.

The Vhembe district municipality, infamous for its shoddy provision of water services, invested R1.07 billion from 2015 to 2017 with VBS.

The investment resulted in the loss of more than R300 million of public funds.

In June 2021, the public protector released a scathing report in which it was confirmed the municipalities had irregularly invested public funds with VBS.

DA MPL Risham Maharaj, who is also the party’s acting provincial spokesperson, said:

“The DA is very concerned by the lack of implementation of the recommendations and the lack of credible explanations of this by the executive.

“The DA will not acquiesce to the protection of ANC cadres, whose greed has caused municipalities to lose millions which could have been channelled towards combatting the collapse of service delivery in affected municipalities. That is why a debate on this matter is very close to our hearts.”

A fortnight ago, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane also accused Mathabatha and cooperative governance, human settlements and traditional affairs MEC Basikopo Makamu of failing to implement the recommendations.

Opposition parties have also echoed the same sentiments, accusing Mathabatha of shielding his political allies.

Mkhwebane was recently in the province during her public protector stakeholder roadshow.

The objective of the roadshow was to assess and monitor the implementation of the remedial action recommended by the public protector’s office in various cases.

She said to her knowledge, the VBS report had not been implemented by the province.

Part of the remedial action was that municipal managers ensured all the relevant officials involved in investing in VBS were held to account.

She said the MECs responsible for the day-to-day operations of local and district municipalities were supposed to follow-up and receive quarterly reports on how the money which was used would be recovered.

Mkhwebane said her office was currently dealing with more than 100 complaints. There were 88 complaints of maladministration and three related to corruption, which are yet to be resolved.

“We have a total number of 107 complaints or matters which are still active. Fourteen of these relate to service delivery complaints,” she said.

“They involve abuse of power, abuse of state resources and behaviour of a public servant.” Mathabatha agreed the province was committed to implementing the remedial action with precision and distinction.

A problem hindering the smooth and quick implementation was lack of resources, he said.

Bolsheviks Party general secretary Seun Mogotji said: “The writing is on the wall that Mathabatha is always all talk, but no action.

“He is just acting at a snail’s pace in an endeavour to protect his own political cronies from facing the wrath of the law.

“The people of Limpopo want every cent from the public purse invested in the illicit bank to be accounted for and all those with blood on their hands to be locked up behind bars for a very long time.”

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