OPINIONISTA

Rendani Mathoho: EFF should not be surprised by the huge interest in its alleged link to the VBS scandal

The media and South African public’s interest and focus on the EFF in the VBS matter is not misplaced. It is the same situation as discovering that your pastor who always preached about the evils of adultery might be having an affair with a church member.

After VBS was placed into curatorship early this year due to a liquidity crisis, an investigation report by the South African Reserve Bank has since been released by Adv Terry Motao. The names of Brain Shivambu, the brother to EFF leader Floyd Shivambu, together with other individuals and entities appear. His name is listed as one of the recipients of gratuitous payments. The public and the media took a huge interest in the VBS story. This prompted the EFF leadership to hold a press briefing in an effort to clarify things.

EFF leader Julius Malema indicated that the EFF leadership has scrutinised Floyd Shivambu’s bank accounts and did not find anything untoward and therefore there is no need for further investigation. The EFF complained that it has been unfairly targeted by the media since there was no EFF leader who was directly implicated by the report, unlike the ANC whose leaders as high as Limpopo provincial deputy chair and treasurer are mentioned, which is a fair point.

The EFF labelled the media’s focus on the EFF and possibility of corrupt activities linked to the VBS saga as a conspiracy by Pravin Gordhan and his lackeys to discredit the EFF. I disagree. Just last Friday the Mail & Guardian reported that some of the VBS loot money linked to Brian Shivambu appears to have ended up in one of Julius Malema's cousins account.

The huge public interest and media focus on the EFFstems from the fact that since its inception the EFF has acted as the sheriff in political town fighting and exposing corruption and wrongdoing. It has gained a reputation on this. Members have also presented themselves as righteous and untainted when it comes to corruption. Just a week before the VBS debacle unfolded, they fought vigorously for the removal of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister after revelations of his meetings with the tainted Gupta family and possible impropriety at the PIC.

It is only fair for the public and the media to demand from the EFF what the EFF has projected itself to be. Therefore the focus in interest is not misplaced. It is the same situation as discovering that your pastor who always preached about the evils of adultery might be having an affair with a church member. This discovery would generate huge interest in the church community.

Instead, the EFF’s response to this scrutiny has been to deflect and attack anyone who points this out, then labeling them agents and Stratcom journalists. This behaviour reminds me of the Jacob Zuma faction of the ANC. They use similar tactics to intimidate and silence critics. One cannot help but reminisce about the days of On-Point engineering and the Ratanang Trust where the CIC himself was charged with tender irregularities based on an investigation conducted by then public protector Thuli Madonsela. The jury is still out on whether the NPA will reinstitute charges after Gerrie Nel of Afriforum’s private prosecution announced his intention to privately prosecute Julius Malema.

On the VBS saga, Malema bragged about his relationship with Vha-Venda king Khosikhulu Toni Mphephu Ramabulana, one of the main VBS shareholder and beneficiary of the payments. He pointed out how far the relationship dates back and how he does not need an appointment to see the king. Malema previously wielded huge political influence in his home province ofLimpopo -which is also Floyd Shivambu's home province. Can all this be a coincidence and the EFF is squeaky clean on the VBS matter, or is the EFF a wolf in sheep's clothing? You can draw your own conclusion. DM

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