By Masibongwe Sihlahla
JUST recently the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) announced that they will investigate why certain areas in KwaZulu-Natal, specifically Tongaat, still have no water after 24 days.
This is very public spirited of them, as provision of water is a basic right of citizens. The reason why the SAHRC would want to investigate the non-provision of water to Tongaat residents and surrounding areas. The non-provision of water not only is essential for sustaining life, but it also impacts the residents in terms of their dignity; without water you cannot take ablutions and your personal hygiene suffers as a result. Sanitation also suffers and this impacts on the dignity of the people.
At the same time we have the situation where a greater injustice and worse hardships are suffered, and that is the racist collusion of the big five banks in South Africa to close the bank accounts of Sekunjalo. We have here a large number of people -- over 40 000 -- who are directly affected by this gross injustice. When banks close accounts it is normally in terms of legislation which requires them to prevent fraud, money laundering, etc. Banks are obligated in terms of the law to Know Your Customer; in other words, to know that the person opening or operating an account is actually the person in actual effect, both physically and legally.
In the normal course of events for banks to close or freeze accounts due to suspicious activity, which they also have to report to the FICA centre, this action is commendable, but what makes it so horrible in the case of Sekunjalo is that there was clear collusion against the person of Dr Iqbal Survé as chairman of the group of companies. His sin? He dared to upset the apple cart and used his company to implement broad-based Black Economic Empowerment, not the BEE restricted to certain high-profile politicians or ministers.
Crude, unadulterated capitalism, by its very nature, must have a large base of economically destitute people. It’s like a drug lord who makes millions off the misery of poor drug addicts.
Any black business leader is welcomed into the club of captains of industry as long as you toe the line, but the capitalist line.
Survé, whose struggle credentials are impeccable, although this is another area where the enemies like to cast doubt in the public mind, has dared to cross the line in pursuit of the natural progress of political freedom -- and that is economic freedom or economic justice.
Out of the nearly 60 million people in Mzansi currently, about 25 million is over 15, and of that group only about 9.6 million are currently employed. We thus see that although under Article 15 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights: “Every individual shall have the right to work under equitable and satisfactory conditions, and shall receive equal pay for equal work.”
It is clear that Sekunjalo has recourse to the African Charter of the African Union, as the workers of Sekunjalo are being discriminated against through no fault of their own.
To create jobs the government relies solely on major companies like Sekunjalo, especially in the field of black youth employment, where more than 50 percent of youth are unemployed.
Sekunjalo makes no secret that they will give priority -- in terms of government legislative dictates -- to giving preference to black workers who are suitably qualified.
The selfish aim of the big five banks is to ensure that Sekunjalo goes under. The consequences are just too dire to contemplate, as a country like South Africa needs economic growth, and economic growth can only occur if there is employment, with consequent job creation.
South Africa has two thirds of its population being urbanised, resulting in huge, informal housing camps, or as the racists call it, squatter camps. Municipalities depend largely on the huge amounts of municipal rates large companies pay. Should a company like Sekunjalo fold, it will cause huge hardships to the local municipalities where their companies are registered. The City of Cape Town, for example, will suffer a huge loss of revenue if Sekunjalo goes under. The social cost will impact on so many areas of their programmes they, as a City, run.
Yet these same banks, who are in racist collusion to stop Sekunjalo banking accounts, did not have one inkling of fraud and money laundering at Steinhoff, and not one account of Markus Jooste was frozen at any time. Is it because he is white? Is White Right? In banking circles it appears so.
We will wait when their smallanyana skeletons come out of the closet, as surely they are sowing the wind and will reap a terrible whirlwind. There were many banks in South Africa who have disappeared; a huge company like Enron disappeared, so nothing is impossible. The same banks, with their brilliant financial monitoring systems, never noticed that Steinhoff lost R300 billion, but Sekunjalo has their accounts closed? They could not produce any rational arguments. Is it because of a racist, vindictive, personal vendetta to undermine Survé, who dared to upset the apple cart of cosy crass capitalism?
Are these top five banks Izinkomo? I think so.