MANY world events don’t happen by chance and I’m not referring to natural events here. Often times they are well orchestrated. It is no coincidence for example that the Zondo Commission into State Capture opened on 20 August 2018, on the same day that television station Afro World View closed its doors. There was a message there; that there was already a forgone conclusion that the Gupta’s television station was part of state capture and would not be tolerated by a commission looking into the matter, but more importantly, it was to ensure that there was only one narrative that would come out of that commission – that of establishment media.
It is also not a coincidence that the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) released its forensic audit into VBS Mutual Bank yesterday, a day after the resignation of former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene who was hounded out of office by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). It is also not a coincidence that the media is focusing primarily on one Brian Shivambu, EFF’s Deputy President’s brother, Floyd, among the fifty people named in the report as having looted VBS Bank. EFF for some reason that is currently not clear, orchestrated the fall of one of the media’s favourites in pushing for the removal of Nene from office but they have also portrayed themselves as squeaky clean anti-corruption crusaders. Here’s the full report VBS Mutual Bank – The Great Bank Heist
It may well be that the postponement of the testimony of former Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan yesterday and that of current Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan which was scheduled tomorrow were deliberate to ensure that there are no competing ideas on the media front, to enable full focus on dragging the EFF, as young people would put it.
Timings and agendas aside, the story of VBS is one of greed, corruption and excesses. It pulls at the heartstrings because this was a bank propped up by the poor in order to lift themselves by the bootstraps. And greed and corruption, so prevalent in the financial system, reared its dirty head to deprive ordinary human beings who had tried their best to make a living and an investment for themselves. Some of VBS’ clients are stokvels, funeral societies, and the Bophelo Beneficiary Fund (BBF) and Bophelo Benefits Services (BBS) which administer a pension fund for widows and orphans of former mineworkers. Then there are the deposits from municipalities which are from the public coffers. It is cruel that these men, Black, who ought to have had some inkling of pity for the sacrifices their clients had made in entrusting their money with them, stole with such impunity.
Over-and-above the greed, came in the complacency of the SARB and the Banking Association of South Africa whose mandate includes an oversight role on banks and protection of depositors. They did not see any of the looting until the name of former President Jacob Zuma emerged. The question was really how a bank with a net profit of R4,9 million could advance a loan of R7,8 million (before initiation fees) to an individual who had 20 months in his post before they would be retiring.
The other question is the role of auditors, who as has been proven around the world, are not independent and turn a blind eye to their clients’ transgressions.
Imagine if the SARB had given VBS the kind of lifeboat it used to advance to the Broederbond-linked banks like Bankorp later to be ABSA, and Sanlam and ensured they followed the regulatory framework. SARB gave ABSA & Sanlam, Nedbank “loans” amounting to billions of rands which they haven’t paid simply because the ruling ANC has refused to demand it.
The looting at VBS is a very sore issue for me. I had opened accounts there in support of a black bank. My teenage daughter had encouraged her friends to go and open accounts there to support a black bank. On opening an account the bank gave their clients t-shirts and my daughters’ friends made the name VBS trendy by calling it VIBES. In the weeks before the scandal of the looting broke, I had been speaking to a shareholder, a chief, who was telling me of the great plans for the bank. The staff at the bank had high hopes and would tell me of the great plans scheduled for the bank. They had no idea that their executives were stealing so much that they would collapse the bank. It is a great tragedy. And the question is really: can there be a cure for this crass level of greed? Steinhoff, African Bank, VBS, and many others….