A special council meeting to suspend the chief finance officer (CFO) for the Vhembe district municipality in Limpopo for contravening the Municipal Finance Management Act was abruptly cancelled yesterday after he allegedly threatened to spill the beans about the actual looters of the VBS Bank’s millions.
Nyiko Machavi was accused of sanctioning the investment of up to R300 million of the municipality’s money in the bank.
Sources told The Citizen Machavi gave the municipality an ultimatum to either suspend him or publicly name and shame those who worked in cahoots with the bank management to defraud it.
Although Machavi could not be reached for comment, municipal spokesperson Ralushai Matodzi said: “I can confirm that such a meeting was scheduled to take place…
“But I am afraid it was postponed until further notice. I was not furnished with reasons [for] the cancellation,” said Matodzi.
Vhembe is one of the 15 municipalities from three provinces that invested more than R1.5 billion in VBS. The municipalities are from Limpopo, North West and Gauteng.
The Vhembe district municipality is under the political tutelage of Florence Radzilani, who is also ANC deputy provincial chairperson and was among those named by a report into the fraud.
Several CFOs in Limpopo municipalities have already been suspended or resigned. Among them are Giyani municipality’s CFO Hitler Maluleke, director for technical services Patience Mathebula and Greater Tubatse’s CFO Frank Ratau. Ratau resigned in June, weeks after his suspension.
Meanwhile, communities of three of the municipalities in Limpopo which invested millions in VBS Mutual Bank have threatened to plunge them into chaos if those implicated in the scandal go unpunished.
Yesterday the provincial executive committee of the ANC in Limpopo gave municipalities affected by the scandal until the end of the month to take action against those who facilitated investment in VBS.
The party said in a statement that it would not tolerate criminal and unethical behaviour from its ranks, irrespective of the leadership position.
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) in Collins Chabane said yesterday streets in the municipality resembled the aftermath of a war because there were no services rendered in the municipality.
Samwu spokesperson Patrick Aphane said the union had speculated earlier this year that the municipality was on the brink of collapse. He said it was wrong for the community to suffer as a result of the investment.
Residents in Fetakgomo Tubatse local municipality, which invested R230 million in the bank, complained the community was facing critical water shortages. Mayor Johannes Phokane claimed water was brought in municipal trucks and tankers, but the community denies that.
The municipality has also been rocked by allegations that it has no money to pay salaries next month.
Phokane said it was making plans to address the matter before November. He conceded the institution had financial difficulties.
Similar complaints emerged from Giyani, where the municipality was unable to maintain roads and municipal buildings or provide basic services such as water and electricity.
Meanwhile, angry residents of Lepelle Nkumpi blocked the entrance to the municipality, which invested R155.5 million in VBS.
The residents threatened anyone who reported for duty and to make the institution ungovernable if those who invested money into the bank did not resign.