Former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo has rubbished claims that he "vigorously encouraged" municipalities in his province to invest R314-million with now collapsed VBS Mutual Bank.
According to the report by the Mail & Guardian, Mahumapelo invited VBS to make a presentation at his Bokone Bophirima premier's coordinating council in March 2017.
The council was reportedly attended by MECs, municipal managers, mayors and key government functionaries.
"At no stage did I pronounce that municipalities should use VBS," said Mahumapelo.
He said, although he firmly believed that black people should support any black-owned bank, he had made no such declaration.
"That would be flouting the Public Finance Management Act and the Municipal Finance Management Act. It's our role to get into that space," added the former premier.
Mahumapelo was responding to the claims at the sidelines of court proceedings in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, where he is part of a group challenging a decision by the African National Congress's (ANC's) national executive committee to disband his provincial executive committee.
The allegations are contained in a forensic investigation report by auditors SekelaXabiso and two highly placed sources.
The forensic report apparently states: "We were informed during our interviews that VBS were given an opportunity to present their services and that the former North West premier vigorously encouraged the municipalities to invest with VBS, as VBS was a black-owned bank, which offered better interest rates."
However, Mahumapelo insisted, when asked about the allegations by News24, that VBS was one of several banks invited to the platinum-rich province to make representations.
"In our provincial Setsokotsane programme, we were going through all the municipalities in the province, invited FNB, Standard bank, Absa and VBS to market themselves and to develop packages that can help out people in the rural areas and the townships to become entrepreneurs and for them to open accounts with those particular banks," explained Mahumapelo.
Reiterating his belief in supporting black-owned businesses, Mahumapelo said a pronouncement of black economic empowerment did not mean he had instructed people to favour a particular bank.