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Media Centre  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU Gauteng to march to ABSA Head Office tomorrow

19 April 2017

The Congress of South African Trade Unions will be marching on the 20th April 2017, to Absa Offices to handover a memorandum of demands following the bank’s involvement in a number of controversial activities that are detrimental to the wellbeing of the country’s economy. The march will start at Johannesburg City Hall from 13H0 to ABSA Head Office.

The commission that was investigating a case of price fixing and market allocation in the trading of foreign currency pairs involving the Rand since April 2015 found that from at least 2007, the 17 banks including Investec Ltd, ABSA Bank Limited (ABSA), and Standard Bank had a general agreement to collude in relation to currency trading involving US Dollar / Rand currency pair. Members of retirement funds lost billions of rands of their assets through such manipulation of our currency. These are the only savings of workers and yet bank executives have faced no prosecution.

COSATU is worried that every strategic sector of our economy does not belong to us. The financial sector (banking and insurance) is a monopoly industry dominated by 4 large privately owned banks (ABSA, Nedbank, FNB and Standard Bank), two of which have significant foreign ownership. Insurance and re-insurance is dominated by Mutual and Federal, Old Mutual, Sanlam, Chartis, Santam, Swiss Re-insurance, Africa Re-insurance, Munich Re-insurance, Chartis, etc. ABSA is 56% foreign-owned whilst Standard Bank is at least 40% foreign owned. The South African Reserve Bank is also privately owned and has foreign ownership too.

Every day we live with the excruciating pain of looking at the economy of our country being squandered by both foreign and domestic capital when the country is engulfed by racial inequality, poverty and unemployment.

ABSA ia a symbol of all those with inherited privileges and ill-gotten gains of the, when you consider that they benefitted from a decade-long bailouts. The Public Protector`s report recommended that ABSA must pay back an amount of R2.25-billion that it received as part of the unlawful apartheid-era bailout that continued during our transition to democracy in 1994-1995.

This is the corruption that has left the country with no resources to fund free education. Corruption in the private sector has got higher implications because of its ability to affect the whole economy and to bring the economy to its knees. Money today is still being taken out of the country by multinationals through base erosion and profit shifting and the rich take their wealth to offshore trusts.

In 2011 46% of credit active consumers 8.8 million then had impaired credit records and this comes as a result of reckless lending practices of these banks and financial institutions. Their collusion combined with the fixed charges and interests rates have left many people swimming in debt.
If we are to achieve transformation, we need to ensure that these banks are held liable for their actions. We shall be marching to ABSA to demand accountability. This is a fight we will pursue in the context of ensuring a second more radical phase of our transition characterized by radical economic transformation.

Issued by COSATU Gauteng
Dumisani Dakile (Provincial Secretary)
COSATU Gauteng Province
Tel: +27 11 403-0990
Fax: +27 11 403-1653
Mobile: +27 82 727 1422
E-Mail: dumisani@cosatu.org.za

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