The South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was caught amidst controversy on Monday, October the 15th when a newspaper report was issued which accused him of being inactive in his role to stop the 1.9 billion Rand (132$ million) being stolen from VBS Mutual Bank. The report was commissioned by the Central Bank.
The report that was titled “The Great Bank Heist” went on to explain the level of corruption that was deep-rooted in the ranks of the VBS bank. The report described the depth and intensity of the dark minds which inhabited the bank by saying that VBS bank was “corrupt and rotten to the core”. With such remarks the report left little to the imagination, however, the President’s office was walking a different line entirely, denying the entire report to the last letter.
The President’s office released a statement which made it clear to the general public that the entire report launched defaming Cyril Ramaphosa, was “baseless and unsubstantiated”. The President’s office further spoke in the defense of the President and stated: “The Presidency categorically rejects reports that Ramaphosa failed to take action on the VBS Bank saga despite being alerted to irregularities back in 2017”.
These statements, however, held little weight and did little to change anyone’s perspective as the sources which brought the reports were very close to a shareholder of the bank and it was revealed that the shareholder had indeed made Cyril Ramaphosa aware of the large sum of money which was being stolen from VBS bank. But Ramaphosa refused to act upon the alarms, which had begun ringing in the year 2016, during the time Cyril Ramaphosa was Vice President.
The news report went on to explain that the information of the bank “heist” was also conveyed to him through means of official departments such as the National Treasury, however, Cyril Ramaphosa did not lend an ear to them.
Unfortunately for VBS, this is not the first time that it has been highlighted in a negative manner in the news as it was first brought to attention in the year 2016 when it graciously offered a 7.8 million rand loan to former President Jacob Zuma, for paying back to the state when he was asked to reimburse for the upgrades that he made to his private residence.
The upgrades were worth $16 million and included a swimming pool and an amphitheater and many other extravagant changes and upgrades which resulted in an outcry from the general public. This led to instigate an order from the constitutional court to Jacob Zuma for returning a sum from the $16 million which was used for the lavish improvements made to his home.
The decision created many difficulties for Jacob Zuma, crushing his financial conditions and political reputation. The report released on recently, however, presents a much more difficult situation and much press clean up to be done by the VBS bank and by President Ramaphosa himself.