ANC accused of hiding corruption
Opposition parties have voiced the view that the replacement of Ithala Bank chief executive Ike Nxedlana with the head of the KwaZulu-Natal treasury, Sipho Shabalala, just months ahead of elections has been done to cover up corruption at the bank.
They said Nxedlana had been replaced because he was probing corruption at the institution. The surprise announcement of the change was made by finance and economic development MEC Zweli Mkhize in Durban on Thursday.
He said the move was part of a mutual agreement between his department, the Ithala directors and the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone. The deputy director-general at the treasury, Lesley Magagula, would act in Shabalala's position during that time, while Nxedlana would take over the helm at the development zone.
Nxedlana took over the reins at Ithala from Sipho Nyembezi, who left amid revelations that the bank was owed money by high-ranking politicians and that he had overpaid himself. The bank made headlines after it was revealed that politicians and their wives had received loans from the bank with no clarity as to whether they were repaying them.
Attempts to ascertain the status of these loans were blocked by bank officials, who said such details were confident.
While Mkhize insisted the move had been motivated by operational needs, new party COPE was not so sure. A party spokesperson, Siyanda Mhlongo, suggested that Nxedlana was being "purged" to protect the bank's defaulters, who were allegedly linked to the ANC.
"We urge MEC Mkhize to furnish us with the list of politicians who have been awarded loans," said Mhlongo. The IFP was also suspicious of Thursday's "sudden appointments". "Ike Nxedlana... was obviously probing too deep," party leader Lionel Mtshali said.
He said the IFP was not surprised by the change, just weeks before the general election.
"In recent years, Ithala's capital has been systematically looted through loans awarded without the slightest guarantees to politicians and their relatives,
Ithala has become 'piggy bank' for elite
Fears are mounting that the government-funded development agency, Ithala Finance Development Corporation, is turning into a piggy bank of sorts for KwaZulu-Natal's political elite.
Concerned that nothing is being done to stop this, former senior staff of Ithala have been leaking Ithala loan documentation and associated information to the Sunday Tribune, hoping these disclosures will spark some action.
They also accuse top Ithala representatives of granting loans to themselves, friends and family. Among Ithala's clients are Dr May Mkhize, the wife of KwaZulu-Natal Finance MEC, Zweli Mkhize. As the MEC in charge of the province's coffers, Mkhize allocates development funds to Ithala.
In addition to receiving R13-million in state-funded loans to buy a farm outside Pietermaritzburg, May also applied for Ithala loans for other enterprises, including one that was set up specifically to service municipalities and the government's public works programme.
Her partners in this venture were Pretty Mbanjwa and Ntombi Shabalala - the wives of the head of transport, Dr Kwazi Mbanjwa, and head of treasury, Sipho Shabalala. Loans have also been granted to various top Ithala executives, including Ithala Chief Executive Officer, Sipho Nyembezi who earns R2,45-million a year.
The chairman of Ithala's board, Precious Lugayeni, Ithala's divisional manager of Audit and Risk, Phillip Ntsimane, and Mohsin Mia, the son of an Ithala director, Mac Mia, have also been granted Ithala loans. Source
Ithala escapes disclosing key info
Ithala Bank got a let-off on Thursday when the provincial government's Finance portfolio committee ruled that it would not have to publicly disclose the names of government officials and Ithala managers who had been granted loans by the institution. Source
Ithala Bad debts cram development corporation's loan book
Zweli Mkhize, the MEC for finance and economic development, said in his budget speech last month that Ithala's R150 million loan book for co-operatives had a 91 percent bad debt ratio;
the R87.9 million micro finance loan book's ratio was 72 percent; and the R131 million micro and small buseniss. Source