Limpopo Premier Chupu Mathabatha. File Photo: Supplied/ANC Limpopo

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Limpopo mayor resigns over VBS scandal

JOHANNESBURG, December 11 – Limpopo African National Congress (ANC) deputy chairwoman Florence Radzilani has resigned as Vhembe District Municipality mayor with immediate effect just as the province’s leaders resolved to fire at least seven mayors who allowed the illegal deposit of funds into the now defunct VBS Mutual Bank.

Radzilani reportedly submitted her resignation letter to the provincial executive committee early Tuesday, ahead of Premier Stan Mathabatha releasing a forensic report on the illegal VBS deposits by at least 12 Limpopo municipalities. The provincial treasury launched an investigation following the SA Reserve Bank’s ‘The Great Bank Heist’ report into the VBS scandal that detailed how 50 individuals and entities looted the Limpopo bank to the tune of R2 billion over a three-year period starting from March 2015.

Radzilani, who distanced herself from any wrongdoing, allegedly invested R300 million in exchange for a bribe. This happened despite warnings that the Municipal Finance Management Act did not allow deposits in mutual banks.

Mathabatha said the 12 municipalities –  Capricon, Thulamela, Collins Chabane, Fetakgomo-Tubatse, Vhembe, Greater Giyani, Lepelle-Nkumpi, Makhuduthamaga, Makhado, Polokwane and Ephraim Mogale – contravened regulations and committed financial misconduct in terms of the Municipal Finance Act. Investigations into Capricon and Thulamela were yet to be completed.

”We will ensure that recommendations are implemented in full without failure. We also call on law enforcement authorities to support and supplement our efforts to ensure that justice is done without fear or favour. We want to see arrests, successful prosecutions and serious jail terms,” Mathabatha told reporters in Polokwane.

Alongside Mathabatha was provincial secretary Soviet Lekganyane, who said that the municipalities lost the deposits and did not get anything in return.

”We found very serious weaknesses in our deployment strategy, which we need to review and ensure that the quality of deployments to local government give the ANC credible representations. Our municipalities took illegal decisions even though National Treasury wrote to the municipalities urging them to withdraw funds from VBS. A few such as Capricon and Makhuduthamaga withdrew as per Treasury instruction, but there were those who continued to invested despite the warning,” Lekganyane said.

Out of the 12 councils, only five were able to claw back their monies from VBS. Lekganyane said the governing party resolved to fire seven mayors of Makhado, Collins Chabane,  Lepelle-Nkumpi, Greater Giyani, Fetakgomo-Tubatse, Ephraim Mohale and Vhembe. The latter was the biggest investing municipality with R300 million in deposits, which was never recovered. The rest of the municipalities will face sanctions and disciplinary procedures for breaking the law.  (ANA)

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