MEC: I will sort out Ithala mess

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Newly appointed KwaZulu-Natal MEC for economic development and tourism Mike Mabuyakhulu yesterday pledged to ensure that loans given by Ithala Bank were serviced, including the R58 million allegedly given to high-ranking ANC officials.

His pledge comes in the wake of allegations that the bank was being plundered by politicians including relatives of high ranking ANC officials.

"We will investigate whether people who have loans with the bank are servicing such loans," he said. "And we will take certain measures to deal with the leadership and other issues affecting Ithala," Mabuyakhulu said.

"This matter will be taken to the cabinet and also discussed with other parties to ensure transparency," he said.

The bank was in the spotlight recently when it emerged that top politicians and their wives had been granted loans by Ithala and there was no clarity on whether they were servicing the loans.

Some of the people who received loans are former Ithala chief executive Sipho Nyembezi, May Mkhize - wife of KwaZulu-Natal premier Zweli Mkhize, top ANC provincial leader Sizani Dlamini and other members of the provincial legislature whose names were never made public.

Ithala acting chief executive Sipho Shabalala yesterday refused to shed light on whether the loans were serviced.

He said the relation between the clients and the banks is privileged.

"One is identified as a client and I have to protect the information of the clients," he said.

Mabuyakhulu said: "We are not going to wait for whistle-blowers. We cannot be oblivious to public perception that the bank is being plundered and looted," he said.

He committed himself to eradicating poverty and unemployment in rural communities.

Mabuyakhulu said he would engage rival investors and communities involved in the controversial Macambini tourism developments.

The proposed R55billion tourism project was spearheaded by former premier S'bu Ndebele.

But the community rejected the Dubai consortium, Ruwaad, and inkosi Khayelihle Mathaba signed with another Dubai-based investor, Sport Cities International (SCI), for R23billion.