/ 25 February 2022

ANC committee clears Maneli & Mogale-Letsie in VBS scandal

The 54th National Conference Of The African National Congress Party (anc)
File photo by Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The ANC’s national dispute resolution committee (NDRC) has overturned a decision by the Gauteng provincial integrity committee (PIC) ordering former West Rand mayor and member of parliament Boyce Maneli to step aside. 

Maneli and former Merafong mayor Maphefo Mogale-Letsie were ordered to step aside from their respective positions as MP and MPL after the committee found that the two executives failed in their responsibility to ensure that the municipality was protected from becoming involved in the VBS Mutual Bank scandal. About 14 municipalities — in Limpopo, North West and Gauteng — lost nearly R1.6-billion after illegally investing with the bank.

The NDRC found that the order for the two provincial leaders was severe. It urged the ANC to look at clarifying succinctly to its structures the roles of executive oversight and authority, saying that these remained ambiguous.

In correspondence by party treasurer general Paul Mashatile to the rest of the top six dated 15 February, he states that both Maneli and Mogale-Letsie must be allowed back to work. 

“After considering all the facts before us it is our considered view as the NDRC that the recommendations of the PIC and subsequent decisions of the provincial executive committee (PEC) be set aside,” the letter reads. 

The NDRC found that the former mayors acted swiftly by instituting a forensic investigation into the scandal in their respective municipalities and followed the recommendations as prescribed. 

The NDRC also found that the PIC did not consider all the facts before it as sanctions for Maneli and Mogale-Letsie did not corroborate with its findings. 

The two former mayors, who sat on the PEC, were considered the fall guys for the ANC in the province. They both appealed the step-aside ruling with the national executive committee after the PEC threatened them with suspension for refusing to follow the order. 

The NDRC said it was able to establish that Maneli was appointed as the West Rand mayor only in August 2016, whereas the municipality started investing in the VBS Mutual Bank a year previously and continued to do so for another two years. The committee said it also established that when the bank was under curatorship Maneli, sought an audience with the then MEC of finance (Barbara Creecy)  and the provincial ANC office bearers for advice on the matter. 

The NDRC said although both ANC leaders were political heads of their respective municipalities, it was the responsibility of the municipal manager to ensure that the municipality invested correctly. 

The two stated they had no prior warning from the municipal officials regarding the investment. 

The committee also found that Maneli and Mogale-Letsie approached their respective councils to solicit direction and resolution. Both of the councils requested the provincial treasury to investigate. The provincial treasury appointed auditing firm Deloitte to conduct a forensic investigation.  

The NDRC noted that both former mayors kept the MEC for co-operative governance appraised on progress. 

“[I]t is our considered view that the sanctions to have them step down as executive mayors and to not accept nomination as public representatives is harsh at best, and extremely severe at worst, especially considering the swift action they took and their overall commitment to deal with those who were found to be in the wrong as the reeling impact of the losses continued to be felt by these municipalities,” said the NDRC.