Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has ordered Limpopo Prime Minister Stan Mathabatha and his Cooperative Board, Human Settlement and Traditional Affairs MEC Basikopo Makamu to take corrective action against officials and politicians involved in the illegal investment of millions of municipal funds in the beleaguered VBS Mutual Bank.
Mkhwebane was in Limpopo as part of her public stakeholder roadshow to look at the province’s failure to implement findings in the report prepared by her office on the VBS-related saga.
Limpopo was one of three provinces whose municipalities irregularly invested more than R1.5 billion in the controversial VBS Mutual Bank. Gauteng and the Northwest are the other provinces that have invested in the bank.
According to Mkhwebane, Limpopo should have taken action against all officials and politicians involved in the investment of the municipal money in VBS. But to her knowledge, not all officials had to face the law.
She said that under the corrective action recommended by her office, municipal managers were to ensure that all officials involved were held accountable.
“The MEC is expected to follow up and receive the quarterly report on how the money that has been used will be recovered,” Mkhwebane said during the meeting on Wednesday.
She said her office’s Limpopo division (OPP) is currently handling more than 100 complaints, mostly related to maladministration.
“We have a total of 107 complaints that are still active, 14 of which relate to service complaints, three to corruption and 88 to maladministration. It is about abuse of power, misuse of state resources and behavior of an official,” Mkhwebane said.
“We expected that they would submit a plan for the implementation of the recovery measures. We have been waiting for that plan since 2021 but all in vain. The MEC also needs to ensure that the corrective actions are implemented and we want it to do just that,” she said.
Mkhwebane also said her office would travel across the country to meet with the MECs, prime ministers and the council speakers in an effort to ensure those involved face the music.
In response, Mathabatha said the provincial government has been unable to implement the corrective measures due to lack of resources.
“We also want to do the remedial action, but it’s just impossible to do that due to the availability of the resources. I want to commit that this government will always work with your agency. What remains is in the hands of law enforcement authorities, both the government and the ruling party,” he said.
MEC Makamu has called on Mkhwebane to consult all stakeholders in the preparation of reports. He said his office was ready to cooperate with Mkhwebane’s office and implement the corrective actions.
The national chairman of the Bolshevik Party in Limpopo, Seun Mogotji, said Mkhwebane’s concerns are evidence that both Mathabatha and Makamu are “snoring at work” when it comes to VBS cases.
“Mkhwebane has just proved what we have always said. We have always said that Mathanatha loves crime and is afraid to take action against members of his government, both at the provincial and municipal levels. He protects his own corrupt comrades at the expense of helpless siblings, mothers and fathers, grandfathers and grandmothers who lost their hard-earned savings in the bank, it’s high time Mathabatha wakes up and smells the coffee,” Mogotji said.
Mogotji called on Mkhwebane to visit the Sekhukhune region, where he said three municipalities have lost more than R300 million by investing in VBS.