The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have released a statement slamming the “racist South African banking cartel” and calling for the formation of a state-owned bank.
While the statement did not specifically make reference to a recent Special Assignment episode – screened this past Sunday – alleging that First National Bank (FNB) discriminates against prospective black homeowners, it is likely that this is what has inspired the press release.
Thousands of black homeowners reportedly believe FNB discriminated against them after taking over Saambou’s books through securitisation.
FNB has described the allegations as “baseless” and said they would defend the matter in the Western Cape Equality Court, following reports that some of the homeowners from the Special Assignment episode have approached the court.
Rather than singling out any one bank, the statement instead alleges that all major banks have formed a “cartel”, charging black people higher interests than their white counterparts for loans.
“The media reports confirmed what we have already [known], from the hundreds of complaints received from customers who are victimised,” the statement says.
EFF Statement On Banks Discrimination Against Black Customers. pic.twitter.com/HnrnWrPf3H
— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) March 12, 2019
The statement also says the “whole financial sector”, not just banks, is guilty of discrimination. Some of the other institutions the party alleges are guilty of this include those selling insurance and “other financial products”.
The statement alleges that other forms of discrimination from financial institutions include the “quick” repossession of possessions, with the party alleging that white people are given more time, leading to “hundreds of black people” with bad credit records.
The party calls for a judicial commission of inquiry with “financial forensic capability” to look into discrimination against black people by the banks. This, the party says, should culminate in banks found guilty losing their licences, as well as the banks paying back the money it has allegedly overcharged black people.
The statement says the “permanent solution to these rapacious, greedy, and patently racist banks” would be the creation of a state-owned bank.
The party says it’s already involved in “legislative processes” to enable this and accuses the ANC of having failed to “rise to the occasion” as they are “not willing” to make such a bank a reality.
FNB CEO Lee Mhlongo, meanwhile, has denied the bank is guilty of any “racial bias or discrimination”.
“In 2006, FNB proactively offered refunds to the affected Saambou customers, the amount involved being approximately R154 million,” he told the SABC.