A defiant FNB boss Michael Jordaan said he would not quit the bank after network sites carried calls for him to resign.
This follows a joint statement from FNB and the ANC yesterday in which the bank apologised to the ANC for the critical interview clippings in its “You can help” campaign, saying it had not intended to launch an attack on the ruling party but had wanted to inspire all South Africans to work together.
But as Twitter came alive with acceptance as well as criticism of the apology and a suggestion that Jordaan would resign, an independent survey revealed that South Africa’s youth support the notion of speaking out against government wrongdoing.
Jordaan was quick to tweet back: “I am not resigning as CEO of the most innovative bank in the world”. He responded to @Moneyweb that its tweeted article suggesting he was “planning to leave the bank at the end of the year” was “speculative”.
The former leader of the DA and ambassador to Argentina, Tony Leon, tweeted “The ANC must be laughing all the way to the bank.”
Journalist Philip de Wet tweeted: “ANC: 3 to 0 and the games are getting shorter. Goodman Gallery put up a real fight, City Press expressed duress. FNB just crumbled.”
The editor of City Press, Ferial Haffajee, tweeted: “I wonder when we who get bullied say so far and no more? Not a good feeling at all.”
Brenda Rogerson, a woman who described herself as interested in content, the media and technology, tweeted: “ANC think they’ve silenced FNB. Instead they’ve silenced the voices of willing young South Africans who are eager to build our democracy.”
The FNB campaign, which was promoted on a TV advert, featured videos of children in school uniform reading out their hopes for the country. The ad raised the ire of the ANC who labelled it as political and “treasonous”.
One of the children read: “The challenges before us cannot be solved by money, petty politics, protests or violence. All the great things we’ve done, we’ve done by helping each other.”
Opposition parties and activist groups earlier said the ANC’s criticism showed its intolerance.
FNB said last night that its meeting with the ANC, led by secretary-general Gwede Mantashe had provided for “constructive, robust and honest dialogue between both parties.”
“The CEO of FirstRand, Sizwe Nxasana, refuted the suggestion that FNB’s intention was to attack the ANC and government and reiterated the positive objectives of the campaign,” FNB said.
“We apologised for the posting of the research interview clippings online. However, we are pleased that the ANC has expressed its support for the overall FNB ‘You can help’ campaign,” FNB said.
The ANC said that the bank had “officially apologised”.
“The CEO of FirstRand, Mr Sizwe Nxasana, agreed that the research clippings posted online were regrettable. He apologised for the posting of the research clippings online,” the ANC said.
“He then assured the meeting that this regrettable incident will not be repeated.”
The ANC said it had pointed out that the videos were a deliberate attack on the party and fed into the opposition narrative that sought to project the ANC and government in a negative light.
The ANC said the clips had a negative impact on business confidence and could undermine the promotion of investment into the country.
“The ANC indicated that its leadership and membership were strongly raising a question why the organisation should continue to bank with a bank that has adopted an oppositional stance to it.”
Nxasa stressed the campaign was intended to inspire all South Africans to work together by helping one another. FNB had expressed commitment to the National Development Plan in addressing poverty, inequality and unemployment, the ANC said.
Meanwhile, a survey by consumer insights company Pondering Panda conducted after the campaign found that about 54 percent of young people surveyed believed every citizen had a right to be vocal against government wrongdoing.
However, about 20 percent felt that voicing criticism of the government amounted to an attack on democracy.