Mkhize: Sunday Times’ R2m VBS “bribe” a defamatory fabrication of me

Media statement issue by the Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs 

I have noted the article by the Sunday Times of 28 October 2018 and other subsequent media coverage as well as enquiries sent to my office on the VBS matter.

As previously placed on record, I wish to emphasize once again that I, in my capacity as Treasurer-General (TG) of the ANC, have never assisted VBS in securing any funding from municipalities or any other state institution.

I have confirmed before that I met with VBS management and directors. This was a formally-arranged meeting with the TG’s office. This meeting was meant to introduce the bank to the organisation and to make one understand its business model. This was nothing uncommon as I constantly met and interacted with representatives of various institutions, including other financial institutions.

Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Zweli Mkhize.

This meeting was never about favours for them but rather to engage and share the ANC transformation vision. As a leader, it was incumbent on me to listen to any concerns or challenges that business, both big and small, had or wished to share with the organisation. I have always done this in any capacity or position given to me by the ANC as part of our constant stakeholder engagements and to ensure that the ANC is seen to be attending to and working closely with the private sector.

Furthermore, let me state clearly that I have never exchanged any SMS correspondence requesting a donation for the ANC with any VBS director or representative. Any assertion to the contrary is false. I also did not request any form of donation in exchange for doing a favour for them, such as securing funding from state institutions or municipalities. If any financial contribution was made to the ANC by VBS or any other company, this would have been without any influence or commitment from the ANC to do favours.

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I have no direct knowledge or personal recollection of the R2million donation by VBS during my tenure as TG as reported.

As stated before, donors who may wish to get clarity regarding any donation they may have made, may raise the issue with details with the Office of the ANC TG for investigation.

As a general practice, the office of the TG sends letters requesting donations ahead of major events such as gala dinners or rallies to hundreds of business leaders and private companies including banks. This is an open practice. Those that wish to make a contribution, do so in good faith and not in exchange for or expectation for any favours.

At the stated time of the meeting I held with VBS bank, I was unaware of their relationship with municipalities. I only became aware of this relationship with municipalities and suspected fraud involving the VBS bank when this matter featured in the media earlier this year.

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It needs to be made explicitly clear that the SMS messages exchanged by VBS directors as reported in the media article were not a conversation with me.

I also noted with keen interest that in the media report the same people who were instrumental in the demise of VBS bitterly acknowledged in their SMS communication amongst themselves that I was of no help to them. While this is indeed true, it is also important to clarify that there was never, at any time, any expectation created by me that I would assist them in securing state funding including that of municipalities.

Not only is this suggestion untrue and laughable, it’s also a clear illustration of the arrogance, bad faith and destructive intentions that the implicated VBS representatives had about the bank.

There has never been a promise by me for any political ‘cover’ or protection of any sort made to directors of VBS as indicated in this article and subsequent insinuations.

Neither have the journalists shared the said SMS message for my attention prior to the publication of the article. As such, my comments are based on my reading of the article as published.

As far as the article refers to my name, it is defamatory and a fabrication devoid of any truth and as such should not be believed.

My views about the VBS saga remain as expressed in Parliament; that it was a case of the greedy robbing the poor. The thuggery that has now come to the fore and is playing itself out in the public space around VBS requires a full probe and all those who unduly benefitted must face the consequences.

In my capacity as the Minister of CoGTA, I will continue to support the various ongoing investigations and further take the necessary steps within my powers to ensure that those who stole monies from municipalities that was meant for service delivery, face the long arm of the law. Further we have committed to investigate all possible ways to recover the public funds from those who illegally benefited.