The ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) says there is no obligation on the ruling party’s members to help President Jacob Zuma pay back a R7.8 million loan he secured from little-known lender VBS Mutual Bank, but “individuals are free to donate or give money to him”.
The bank, which has four branches – three in Limpopo and one in Johannesburg – gave Zuma a loan to pay back the money for the controversial security upgrades made to his Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.
“ANC members who want to donate to Zuma to help him repay the loan can do so in their individual capacities,” ANCWL spokesperson Toko Xasa said yesterday. “No one can stop individuals from doing that.”
Leaders such as Mpumalanga premier and provincial ANC chairperson David Mabuza had previously called on the ruling party’s structures to help Zuma pay the Nkandla bill. But this contradicted ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe’s comments that the party’s structures that raised money for Zuma would be in contempt of the Constitutional Court.
This was after the court had earlier this year ruled that Zuma’s actions regarding Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on the multimillion-rand upgrades to his Nkandla homestead were unlawful. Zuma had previously refused to pay the money, saying Madonsela’s orders were “only recommendations”.
Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans’ Association chairperson Kebby Maphatsoe was concerned that many people were not happy that Zuma had repaid his Nkandla debt. “We are hearing noises from outside,” Maphatsoe said. “The president has put the Nkandla issue to rest and we must move forward.”
VBS refused to comment on how and why it chose to extend a loan to Zuma, citing client confidentiality. “As a responsible corporate citizen, the bank abides by regulations pertaining to the privacy of customer information,” VBS CEO Andile Ramavhunga said.
“The business of VBS is focused specifically on traditional communities who own land. Home loans are granted to individuals, partnerships, trusts, closed corporations, private companies or prospective owners who wish to buy, improve or build their own fixed residential property.
“Like any financial institution, the bank lends to qualifying individuals only. In granting a loan, the usual processes and conditions apply, no matter who the client may be.”
According to the CEO, the bank had been granting full title and permission to occupy loans since its formation as a building society in 1982.
“Rural homes tend to remain in families for generations, resulting in our loan book being rated the best by the regulator in terms of low impairment levels,” Ramavhunga said. “It is one of few financial institutions offering home loans in respect of land owned by traditional authorities.”
He also said it was important to note the size of each bank’s balance sheet, capital and reserves ratio determined the size of loans offered.
“This is aligned to the guidelines issued in the Mutual Banks Act and other regulations relating to mutual banks, which VBS fully complies with.”
The state-owned Public Investment Corporation, which manages more than R1.8 trillion in assets and invest funds on behalf of government’s entities, had been a VBS shareholder since 1982. Before 1994, this shareholding was held through the Venda Pension Fund vehicle.