The Reserve Bank may have placed VBS Mutual Bank into curatorship because it was growing too fast for the liking of its competitors, one of its founders told Business Day in an interview published on Monday morning.
"We suspect we are being targeted," the paper quotes Wilson Muvhulawa as saying. "VBS Bank is the fastest-growing bank in South Africa and we believe it is a threat to other banks. They are now trying by all means to keep us where we are."
VBS was founded in 1982. It started to grow rapidly in 2016, around the same time it extended a loan to then President Jacob Zuma. Despite that rapid growth it was a fraction of the size of full-fledged banks when it was placed into curatorship.
Muvhulawa said the bank did not understand the treatment it received because "we are advancing the policy of radical economic transformation".
The phrase "radical economic transformation" became synonymous with the Zuma faction's 2016 battle to win ANC elections. It has since become associated with attacks on the presidency of Cyril Ramaphosa.
Muvhulawa insisted that the loan to Zuma had been legitimate, considered as any other loan would have been, and had had nothing to do with politics or the Venda succession.
Now, he says, VBS was being punished for granting that loan.