The African National Congress’s (ANC’s) January 8 statement made more noise about the banking sector than in the past.
“There was a lot more noise around the banking sector than we have seen in the past. But I would caution against getting too excited about it yet until more information comes through,” political analyst Nic Borain said on Sunday.
ANC alliance partner the South African Communist Party (SACP) had held a “Red October Campaign” last year to highlight SA’s high bank charges and the inaccessibility of the banking system to the poor. “The SACP have been a fervent ally and defender of Mr Zuma and this is some kind of political payback.”
Some of the government’s key economic ministers such as Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel and Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies are prominent SACP members.
In the statement, President Jacob Zuma used the Freedom Charter’s goal that “the people shall share in the country’s wealth”, to criticise monopoly capital. He mentioned transformation aims to change the ownership patterns of the economy, deracialising it, and called for laws to be finalised to ensure local communities and mine workers benefit from the country’s mineral wealth.
“All of that is not new,” Mr Borain said. “We know that the proposed laws are being worked and that there has been a marked rise in the black middle class, which the ANC can be proud of.”
Mr Zuma said banking had “become much more accessible. But the excessive bank charges and fees mean many people still cannot afford bank services”.
The state would establish a bank administered by the South African Post Office, said Mr Zuma, without mentioning that the Post Office was experiencing financial strain and is being overseen by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.