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DA lays complaint against Shivambu for ‘violating’ parliament code of conduct

EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu.
EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Economic Freedom Fighters deputy president Floyd Shivambu has denied he was in any way conflicted when he attended parliamentary hearings on VBS Bank – because he didn’t know his brother had received money from the bank’s majority shareholder.

But the Democratic Alliance isn’t buying that explanation‚ with the party’s John Steenhuisen telling this publication that he did not believe Shivambu did not know his brother had received R16m from VBS’s majority shareholder‚ Vele Investments.

Shivambu has been outspoken as an EFF MP in vocalising the party’s opposition to the SA Reserve Bank’s decision to place VBS under curatorship. But he insists this was a matter of principle‚ not a stance driven by a desire to protect anyone linked to the bank’s alleged looting.

The DA has laid a complaint against Shivambu with Parliament’s Ethics Committee‚ in which they allege that he violated Parliament’s Code of Conduct by failing to disclose – during meetings where the VBS Bank saga was discussed and decided – that his family had a financial interest linked to the scandal‚ or may have benefitted from it.

A report commissioned by the Reserve Bank on the alleged looting of the bank‚ which received massive deposits from multiple Limpopo municipalities‚ says the payments given to Brian Shivambu — and a host of other people or businesses — were “gratuitous”.

Both Shivambu and EFF leader Julius Malema have welcomed the possibility of a parliamentary investigation into Shivambu’s alleged ethical breaches‚ with Malema insisting that his deputy did not have a conflict of interest when he represented the EFF in parliamentary hearings on VBS.

“He was not conflicted‚” Malema said.

During a press briefing at the EFF’s headquarters on Tuesday‚ Shivambu denied knowing that his brother had concluded contracts with Vele Investments in December 2017 – months before the Parliament Standing Committee on Finance met over the fate of the struggling bank.

“I got to pay detailed attention to the contractual relationship which my younger brother had with Vele Investments only after this issue came now that he had a contract or he benefited from VBS.

“And I saw in the contract that he was providing consulting and advisory services on the non-banking assets of Vele Investments.”

According to Shivambu: “So there was nothing to disclose about that... and in any was our intervention in VBS was not in attempt to save the shareholders‚ it was not in an attempt to save the directors.

“We never said there must be protection of the shareholders of VBS so they must continue to give us money and all of those other things.”

According to Shivambu‚ backed up by the EFF’s leadership‚ the party’s vocal opposition to VBS being placed under curatorship was based on its “principled position” that the bank could and should be saved with recapitalisation- through a government guarantee.

Shivambu also appeared to be strongly suggesting that the R16m his brother received for these services was not unusual‚ or excessive. This is despite the VBS Bank report‚ written by Advocate Terry Motau‚ revealing how nearly R2bn was looted from the bank and allegedly channeled to bank officials‚ and politically-connected individuals.

But when Shivambu was directly asked if he believed those payments were innocent‚ Malema intervened‚ and said it would not be appropriate‚ at this stage‚ to comment on the intention behind those payments.

In the DA’s ethical complaint against Shivambu to Parliament’s Ethics Committee‚ party MP Phumzile van Damme cited multiple clauses in Parliament’s Code of Conduct‚ which obligate MPs to both disclose their interests in specific matters discussed by Parliament.

She further pointed to a clause that specifically prohibits the family members of MPs from receiving a “reward‚ benefit or gift from any person or body that creates a direct conflict of financial or business interest for such Member‚ or their immediate family member‚ or that is intended or is an attempt to corruptly influence that Member in the exercise of his or her duties or responsibilities as a public representative”.

The leadership of the Economic Freedom Fighters held a media briefing on Tuesday, October 16 2018, at the party’s Johannesburg headquarters, to put to bed the rumours surrounding the alleged involvement of its deputy president, Floyd Shivambu, and his brother Brian in the VBS scandal.

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