Parliament’s ethics committee released its findings on the VBS Mutual Bank scandal, and the results have raised eyebrows. While EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu was condemned for his involvement, party president Julius Malema was surprisingly spared from the legislature’s wrath.
It all began when DA leader John Steenhuisen lodged a complaint against Malema, accusing him of benefiting from VBS funds through Mahuna Investments.
The complaint also alleged that Malema failed to disclose this benefit in his declarations of interest for 2017 and 2018. Furthermore, it claimed that Malema used VBS depositors’ savings and municipal funds to finance his lavish lifestyle, business interests, and political aspirations.
Additionally, the complaint alleged that Malema was involved in a scheme to conceal the origin and ultimate beneficiaries of the funds. It also accused him of misleading Parliament about his connections with Mahuna Investments. These serious allegations prompted the acting Registrar of Members’ Interests to request Malema’s response.
In his response, Malema dismissed the allegations, considering them baseless and unsubstantiated. He denied any involvement with Mahuna Investments and criticized the complaint as “newspaper junk.”
Meanwhile, the ethics committee decided to summon the liquidator involved in the VBS scandal to provide a detailed report on the movement of money. In August 2021, the liquidator’s report revealed that Sgameka Projects Pty Ltd had transferred a significant amount to Mahuna Investments’ ABSA bank account. However, the report clarified that Malema did not possess a bank account with VBS, leading to further scrutiny of the allegations against him.
Ultimately, the committee concluded that it lacked sufficient information to make a breach finding against Malema. Consequently, they closed the file on his case. In contrast, Shivambu faced condemnation for failing to disclose three payments from VBS bank, made to him by Sgameka Projects Pty Ltd in 2017. The committee obtained an affidavit from the liquidator, which confirmed these payments.
Committee co-chairperson Bekizwe Nkosi explained that the sanction imposed on Shivambu was based solely on non-disclosure and not on any other matters under investigation by law enforcement agencies. As a result, Shivambu received a penalty of nine days, which the committee deemed appropriate for the non-disclosure offence.
However, the EFF responded fiercely to the committee’s findings. National spokesperson Sinawo Tambo branded the conclusion that Shivambu received an undeclared donation as false and detached from reality. Tambo announced that Shivambu would challenge the committee’s decision in court, asserting that Parliament had no authority to dispute loans between individuals.
As the fallout from the ethics committee’s findings continues, it remains to be seen how the legal battle initiated by Shivambu will unfold. The controversy surrounding the VBS Mutual Bank scandal and its impact on South African politics is far from over.