Over the past 23 years, South Africa has consolidated its political freedom through successive ANC governments, but this progress is being undermined by economic inequality.
Whilst the richest South Africans have seen their wealth grow, the poorest have seen millions added to their ranks and it is no coincidence that the richest have almost all been white, whilst the poorest have been black.
The rot in the system
At the heart of this is a fine tuned machine that has operated to ensure economic apartheid flourishes.
The so called big four banks – ABSA, Nedbank, Standard Bank, and FirstRand – which together control 90% of all banking assets in the country, have deliberately excluded the majority, with up to 10 million black South Africans without a bank account, and millions more with limited services.
For these people, their only option has been micro lending institutions that loan with interest rates as high as 80%.
The strength of these banks has not come about as a consequence of merit or even mere historic advantage. The CIEX report started to shine a light into some of the blatant criminal activities, most famously ABSA. Farcically, the Davis Inquiry (in 2002) found that illegality had occurred, but concluded that it might upset the economy to try and recover the stolen proceeds.
You couldn’t make this up. A monopoly capital inquiry rules that a crime performed by a monopoly capital agent couldn’t see full justice done because it might upset the economy controlled by monopoly capital. They must think we’re all idiots to swallow this rubbish. What consolation is that to the 40% of black South Africans who are unemployed?
And whilst we’re on ABSA they gained billions via loans to the apartheid era governments. For example:
- In 1977, it pledged ZAR90 million to the apartheid army for its Defence Force Bond
- At roughly the same time, it also lent US$478 million to PW Botha’s government, arguably the most racist government South Africa has ever known
- Between 1982 and 1984, it helped arrange loans amounting to US$725.4 million to the apartheid government
As if this weren’t enough, ABSA is one of the banks in South Africa who this week have been found by the Competition Commission to be rigging the Rand, distorting the nation’s economy and robbing all South Africans.
The final ignominy? (and this is where the farcical really becomes the ridiculous) ABSA is set to absolved from any fines (in the Rand rigging case) because it has cooperated in the investigation. Is there anything that ABSA isn’t guilty of, that it won’t ultimately escape punishment from?!
This is theft just as plain as if you were mugged in the street. The time has come for us all to speak with one voice and say enough is enough.