This week, South Africans were treated to some striking, yet not so surprising revelations from the banking sector.
Institutions, which typically operate in secrecy – supposedly under the guises of “client confidentiality” – were this week were asked to stand before a parliamentary standing committee and provide evidence on the scale to which banking apartheid continues to exist today.
At First Rand Bank, it was found that up to 63% of both senior management and senior staff at the institution are white.
Meanwhile, at Absa – one of the banks implicated in by the Ciex report for having looted billions during apartheid – it had only 34% black South Africans on its board.
It is not just representation on boards where black South Africans get a raw deal. On the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, where all four banks are listed, it was revealed at only 23% of all shares listed are black owned.
Time for action
During the course of the committee, the CEOs of the big banks were asked to explain what percentage of direct black share ownership they had. It was the answer to this that was most shocking of all:
- Absa: 6%
- First National Bank: 3%
- First Rand: 5%
23 years after apartheid, with black South Africans representing 80% of the population, this is unacceptable. We can no longer sit on our hands. The time for action is now.