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South African banks are unpatriotic and don’t care about job creation

FILE - Eight thousand jobs are at risk because South African banks desire to play politics, says the writer. The logos of three of South Africa's biggest banks – Absa, Standard Bank and First National Bank – displayed on buildings in Cape Town. File picture: Mike Hutchings

FILE - Eight thousand jobs are at risk because South African banks desire to play politics, says the writer. The logos of three of South Africa's biggest banks – Absa, Standard Bank and First National Bank – displayed on buildings in Cape Town. File picture: Mike Hutchings

Published Feb 26, 2022

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OPINION: Eight thousand jobs are at risk because South African banks desire to play politics; 8 000 jobs that South Africa needs; these are 8000 friends, family members and neighbours that could lose their jobs, writes Jacques Sibomana.

According to an article published in the Daily Maverick on December 5 last year, “the latest official data reflect two out of every three young people (under 35 years old) in South Africa are unemployed”.

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In a country where every job matters, creating job opportunities has been a major focus in efforts to reduce inequalities and other social and economic ills. In this regard, however, we continue to see banks in South Africa behaving in an unpatriotic manner.

When the President called on all South Africans, both in the private and public sector, to work together to reduce the level of unemployment, it seemed South African banks were on their own mission to cut 8 000 jobs.

Over the past 10 years, I have worked with both informal and formal small business owners, and the sentiment towards the banks has been the same across the board – how difficult it is for black-owned business to access credit.

It has become a joke about how black-owned businesses struggle to access a credit line from the banks, and, when they do get one, it will be overpriced, almost designed to cripple the business.

Small business owners are working tirelessly to build their businesses, create jobs and contribute towards economic growth. But they are the last to receive any support, especially from the banks that are happy to bank their hard-earned earnings.

One may think that this is perhaps just the way banks treat small business owners.

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To understand how South African banks are careless about jobs and job creation in South Africa, examine how they are treating the Sekunjalo Group, a black-owned investment group with over eight thousand employees.

Nedbank has been recently called on to close the Sekunjalo Group’s bank account, as well as those of companies linked to Sekunjalo and its founder, Dr Iqbal Surve, even though Sekunjalo and Dr Surve have not been charged for any crime.

In a country where we need to protect existing jobs while creating others, and where the financial institutions need to be more patriotic to this call and use their network to invest more in job creation projects, why would an institution such as Nedbank do this and impact 8 000 jobs?

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With over 1.5 million small business owners in South Africa that are struggling to grow their business due to lack of access to financing partners, why are the banks not active in this space and creating a real impact that results in job creation?

Eight thousand jobs are at risk because South African banks desire to play politics; 8000 jobs that South Africa needs; these are 8000 friends, family members and neighbours that could lose their jobs.

Let us not all rush to open a black bank, but rather call for a fair playing ground for all. If we work together, we can create 8 000 more jobs, but divided we are putting 8 000 jobs at risk.

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Today it is Sekunjalo Group, tomorrow it could be ARM, RH Bhopelo or Phembani and others. Let us work together to mentor each other as we continue to create jobs in South Africa.

* Jacques Sibomana is a Social Entrepreneur.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL and Independent Media..

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