VBS liquidators want Nkandla; Hawks investigate Malema; Mine strikes; Discovery share perks up

By Jackie Cameron

  • The wheels of justice are starting to turn a bit faster in South Africa, with former president Jacob Zuma and Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema both in the spotlight in connection with court action. News24 reports that former president Jacob Zuma has to cough up R7.3m to pay back his bond from VBS – or he could lose his Nkandla property. That’s according to News24, which has seen court papers filed by VBS Mutual Bank’s liquidator, Anoosh Rooplal. The papers allegedly show that Zuma had defaulted on the multimillion-rand loan extended to him by the bank in 2016. “Rooplal and VBS are asking the court to grant an order forcing Zuma to pay up, or give an order that will allow VBS to execute on the property – a section of land owned by the Ingonyama Trust named Nxamalala Farm, and on which Nkandla is built,” says News24. “Zuma secured a much-publicised bond from VBS that he used to pay R7.8m to the South African Reserve Bank in September 2016 as part of what he owed for the cost of extensive upgrades to his Nkandla homestead after he became president in 2009,” says News24. The R250m-worth of taxpayers’ funds in upgrades to Nkandla caused huge controversy, highlighting state capture and corruption in the Zuma era.
  • Bloomberg reports that opposition leader Julius Malema presented himself to the police’s special investigative unit over allegations that he illegally fired a weapon. Malema arrived at the offices of the so-called Hawks in Pretoria, on Tuesday. His party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, said Monday the unit would issue a warning statement to Malema. The 38-year-old was filmed allegedly shooting a rifle into the air during the party’s five-year anniversary celebrations in the southern town of East London last year. Malema told reporters the Hawks informed him further investigations are being conducted on the incident after a prosecutor refused to move on the evidence presented before him. Malema’s appearance before the Hawks came a day after the Daily Maverick, a Johannesburg-based news website, alleged that Malema was a beneficiary of funds embezzled from failed VBS Mutual Bank and used the money to finance his political aspirations and lavish lifestyle, including the purchase of Gucci apparel and other luxury items. EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said he couldn’t immediately comment when contacted on Tuesday. The party has previously said there’s no proof its officials did anything wrong. “The allegations on VBS are a fabrication and unfounded,” Malema said. “Louis Vuitton and Gucci, I have worn it before. I don’t buy it with VBS money.”
  • In an unusual move, Lin Songtian, China’s ambassador to South Africa, has opened fire at US President Donald Trump through newspaper advertisements. Bloomberg reports that Lin took out a half-page advertisement in a local newspaper to attack the stance of the US and Trump on global trade. In a paid-for editorial, Lin said bullying by the US will drive the world into a “severe recession” and accused Trump of capriciousness. “The Chinese culture emphasises that ‘gentlemen keep their words.’ Honouring the promises and commitments is the basic ethical code and requirement for state leaders and businessmen,” he said in the advert titled ‘Voice of China.’ His comments were also published in the Star newspaper. “The president of the US runs his country according to his own will, dictates the world through Twitter and changes his position overnight,” Lin said. The column is part of a drive by Beijing to have its ambassadors speak out globally, says Bloomberg, and reflects the deteriorating relationship between the world’s two biggest economies.
  • Anglo American Platinum and Sibanye Gold will seek mediation to break the deadlock in wage negotiations with South Africa’s largest platinum-mining labour union. The producers said they will try to resolve the standoff internally, rather than apply to the nation’s Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which started pay talks in June, has declared a dispute with the two miners, union President Joseph Mathunjwa said by phone on Tuesday.
  • Looking at the JSE, it was a better day for medical scheme operator Discovery, which saw its share price perk up by more than 2%. Discovery was among the top-five major movers on the Johannesburg stock exchange. But, it was a tough day for shareholders in mining and resources stocks, with Assore down more than 7%, Impala platinum down nearly 6% and Kumba Iron Ore not far behind, with a drop of just over 5%.