PETER RAMOTHWALA and KGOTHATSO MADISA
The ANC’s national executive committee has reinstated two top Limpopo party officials who were implicated in the Great Bank Heist report on the looting of VBS Mutual Bank.
The pair, ANC Limpopo treasurer Danny Msiza and former Vhembe municipality mayor Florence Radzilani – who also served as provincial deputy chairperson – had to step down from their positions in 2018 after being implicated in the report by advocate Terry Motau, which lifted the lid on the looting of the bank to the tune of R2bn.
Several sources in both the ANC NEC and in the Limpopo provincial executive committee (PEC) told Sowetan that the party’s highest decision making body between conferences agreed at its meeting at the weekend that Msiza and Radzilani must be reinstated to their positions as soon as possible.
ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte said an announcement on the pair will be made at a press conference tomorrow. But insiders said out of the 44 NEC members who spoke on the matter, only a few were against the decision to reinstate the pair.
Among those apparently opposed to the move are Limpopo provincial secretary Soviet Lekganyane, Aaron Motsoaledi, Joel Netshitenzhe, Pinky Kekana and Dikeledi Magadzi.
“If there’s a case, they must defend that case but they must go back to the office because they have been elected by the conference,” said an NEC member who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Lekganyane refused to comment on the NEC meeting when contacted by Sowetan yesterday..
Another NEC member said: “Those who spoke in agreement that comrades Msiza and Radzilani should come back and resume their responsibilities advanced their argument on the basis that they were not facing criminal charges… They were told to step aside from the party’s activities and in between there is nothing happening to conclude their case.”
Radzilani during her time as the mayor of Vhembe district was alleged to have complained about receiving less money in kickbacks than municipal officials.
She was implicated in the report for demanding a R300,000 “Christmas” present after her district municipality deposited R300m into the collapsed bank
Msiza was labelled as an alleged kingpin in the “heist” by one of the bank’s officials, who claimed that he influenced municipalities to deposit money with VBS. Msiza has since challenged the report in court.
Msiza and Radzilani were suspended after the ANC integrity committee led by George Mashamba recommended that those implicated in the report should step aside from party activities.
Another NEC member said after the matter was extensively debated, party chairman Gwede Mantashe ruled that the two should be reinstated.
However, this was not the end of the matter, said another source about the heated debate.
“President Cyril Ramaphosa told the members that their matter should be taken for further consultation with the party structures and the alliance,” the member said.
“They said a decision to ask the two to return will undermine the integrity committee which recommended they should step aside. They also raised the issue that they should wait for the Hawks’ investigations to come to a conclusion,” said the official, “to avoid the name of the party being brought into disrepute”, if the two officials were later to be arrested.
Ramaphosa is said to have suggested that people whose money was stolen in the VBS Mutual Bank should be consulted first before a final decision on the pair was made.
“Remember there are old people who lost their money, poor people,” the source said, adding that there was a feeling the investors should have been asked how they felt.
Limpopo PEC members are said to have also argued that there were people accused of corruption who still held strong positions in the party and that the pair was not included in the recent arrests made in the VBS bank case.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe didn’t respond to Sowetan’s requests for comment yesterday.
Last week, the Limpopo provincial working committee recommended to the PEC that the two should be reinstated.
Lekganyane, however, said the PEC did not “entertain” that matter as it was the party’s NEC which was thrust with the responsibility to decide the fate of two officials.
“We said that the NEC should speed up the process in relation to the two.
“Whether they come or remain outside, it doesn’t matter as long as the matter will be put to rest,” he said.
Both Msiza and Radzilani did not respond to Sowetan’s requests for comment.