Leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Julius Malema confirmed on Monday afternoon that his party would not participate in the “Occupy Absa” initiative.
He was speaking at the party’s post-plenary press conference in Johannesburg on Monday.
Malema says the the controversial Gupta family is behind the initiative, and “we will deal with Absa at our own time”.
“We reject all disingenuous political campaigns like the Absa pay back the money campaign, which in the main is a Gupta- and state security-sponsored campaign aimed at saving the current kleptocracy status quo.
“Our political programme against white monopoly capitalism and its inherent criminal exploitative practices will never be determined by the enemies of the emancipation movement.”
His sentiments echo those of analysts and commentators who have expressed concern that the focus on the so-called Reserve Bank lifeboats of the 1980s may be an attempt to distract from an investigation of present-day state capture attempts.
“We shall never be a pawn in a chess game of kleptocratic and white capitalist forces in South Africa. Thus, we will deal with Absa at our own time.”
This was clearly in relation to Black First Land First’s call for the EFF to join forces in “occupying” Absa. A leaked preliminary report from the office public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane had indicated Absa might be forced to pay R2.25 billion in allegedly unpaid interest to the fiscus for an “unlawful” apartheid-era bank bailout of Bankorp Limited in the 1980s, a bank that was acquired by Absa in 1992.
Absa has maintained that it paid for value for Absa and that all loans have been repaid.
BLF leader Andile Mngxitama had called on Malema to join his party in making the bank account for the billions it allegedly stole. The EFF completely ignored him.
Malema’s party had earlier declared, in 2015, that it would occupy all Absa branches as a result of money allegedly stolen during apartheid. They did not do so, however.
The BLF has organised its march against Absa, to be held on 28 January, which Mngxitama says is aimed at “exposing all”. Mngxitama has also accused other organisations who were vocal against the Guptas’ alleged state capture of double standards. He said it was unacceptable that they were not as vocal about the Absa saga.