Why Cyril won’t act on banks

President Cyril Ramaphosa Kopano Tlape GCIS. Picture: File

President Cyril Ramaphosa Kopano Tlape GCIS. Picture: File

Published Nov 27, 2023


President Cyril Ramaphosa will not act against the banks over rand fixing, according to Unisa Professor Boitumelo Senokoane.

Senokoane, who joins the popular narrative that the president’s strong links with big corporate and monopoly capital will hinder him from taking the banks to task.

This follows the revelation that banks manipulated the rand and the South African economy. British multinational bank, Standard Chartered, was fined R42 million by the Competition Commission after it admitted to engaging in currency manipulation.

“Ramaphosa is part of the white banking system and white business in general. His business, his shares and levels of ownership is directly linked to banks and it’s owners and shareholders.

“There is no way that Ramaphosa will attack business because he is part of that cabal. The known reality is that it was business that delivered him to the presidency. The 2016/17 Zuma-must-fall protests were sponsored by big corporations including the banks. Big business was one of the key donors to his CR17 campaign.Those bank statements were sealed by the courts, It is visible where Ramaphosa’s links and support is.” Senokoane said.

Ramaphosa's business links were laid bare a few weeks before his 2017 election as ANC president when the banks lobbied against former president Zuma in favour of Ramaphosa and when Zuma appointed Des van Rooyen as finance minister, the CEOs of banks threatened to “collapse the economy” if Zuma didn’t fire Van Rooyen with immediate effect. Zuma recalled Van Rooyen two days after appointing him.

Ramaphosa was so disposed towards the banks that during the BRICS conference in Sandton in July, he broke protocol by inserting Standard Bank CEO Sim Shabalala into the programme ahead of the foreign presidents. In an opening programme that was known to be a programme of presidents only, Shabalala's inclusion sent shock waves across the diplomatic community.

South African Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago told journalists that the Competition Commission has jurisdiction over the matter.

“Should they require any further assistance from us, they will get it. But they are the competent authority to investigate any allegations of market abuse or market manipulation.

“They must be given the space to do their work and follow their processes and we should not burden them with asking for running commentary. Beyond that, you are not going to get any further comment from the reserve bank,” he said.

Startlingly, SARB, with all it’s powers, said it refuses to meddle in the Competition Commission’s probe.

Former president Thabo Mbeki however did not mince his words. Addressing journalists in Cape Town yesterday, Mbeki said banks complicit in the scheme to manipulate the rand should be brought to book.

“The matter about the manipulation of the rand is nothing new, it happens with all of these tradeable currencies. I remember an instance when they did that in London with the British pound.”

Mbeki called on the Competition Commission to get to the bottom of the issue.

“I thought I saw that some of the banks are saying they are ready to co-operate, to tell the truth, including about who else was there.

"I think it’s very important that action should be taken against culprits but I think it’s a very important process, and it’s important that some of the banks want to come clean.” Mbeki said.

Ramaphosa also defended the Reserve Bank following the public scrutiny after it cleared him of allegations of corruption and breaking foreign exchange laws in the Phala Phala scandal that saw millions in foreign currency stolen from his farm. SARB found that Ramaphosa didn’t break any law even after the section 189 parliamentary inquiry chaired by former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo found that the president had a case to answer for in the Phala Phala affair.

The president was still not available for comment at the time of publication.

The ANC referred questions to the president in his personal capacity.

The Star