The relationship between the ANC (African National Congress) and South African banks is facing scrutiny after nearly three decades of unkept promises to safeguard citizens from banking injustices. Many see the ruling party’s failure to uphold its commitments as driven by self-interest at the expense of those in need of fair banking services.
One prominent example of this power struggle is Standard Bank’s plan to close Independent Media’s bank accounts on September 15, seemingly influenced by negative media reports from Independent Media’s competitors. This move is viewed as an abuse of power, as Standard Bank seeks to sever ties with over 200 Sekunjalo Group companies, including Independent Media.
Critics, including political analysts, opposition figures, and economists, place the blame squarely on the ANC for allowing the big six banks to wield excessive power and control in South Africa. They argue that the ANC has opted to align itself with private banks instead of pursuing the establishment of a state bank. Allegations even suggest that this alignment includes obtaining directorship positions at these banks and financial support from their owners.
Dr. Metji Makgoba, an independent political analyst, points out that the ANC’s reluctance to create a state bank aligns with its capitalist ideology, favoring corporate dominance over government intervention. A state bank could disrupt this cozy relationship and threaten the ANC’s control.
The absence of a state bank is particularly harmful to marginalized communities, especially black citizens, who continue to experience harassment and abuse from private banks. Critics argue that these banks, with their fee structures and billing practices, worsen poverty and inequality.
The ANC’s failure to implement conference resolutions, such as the creation of a state bank, is viewed as a deliberate move, with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s past connections to Standard Bank Group raising questions. Some argue that the ANC leadership puts business interests ahead of its own conference decisions.
Julius Malema, leader of the EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters), has called for a commercial state bank to counter the influence of existing banks, especially in light of Standard Bank’s recent closure of Sekunjalo-related accounts. He believes such a bank is urgently needed to shield citizens from bank harassment.
Despite these concerns, the ANC government has yet to take action on establishing a state bank, leading to allegations of inaction and collusion with the banking sector.