Big four banks’ dominance must end: Zuma

President Jacob Zuma said the dominance of the country’s four major banks must end and access to the economy for the black majority improved. By Amogelang Mbatha.

Jacob Zuma

President Jacob Zuma said the dominance of the country’s four major banks must end and access to the economy for the black majority improved.

“There’s a skewed kind of economic control,” Zuma said on Friday. “We actually frustrate our economy deliberately by letting a few people control the economy. So we want to change that. Let us have more banks and share that space.”

The country’s five largest lenders, including the so-called “big four” of Standard Bank, Barclays Africa Group (Absa), FirstRand (First National Bank) and Nedbank, control about 90% of banking assets in the country.

Criticism of the lenders from Zuma and his supporters intensified after the institutions refused to do business with companies linked to the Gupta family, who are friends with the president and in business with his son.

Zuma, 74, was speaking at an event hosted by The New Age newspaper, which has ties to the Guptas.

The family, led by brothers Atul, Ajay and Rajesh, came to South Africa from India in 1993 and built a business group ranging from computers to uranium mining.

Zuma’s comments follow the state-of-the-nation address on Thursday, in which he said the inclusion of the black majority in the economy has been too slow.

The monopoly in the mining sector should also be addressed, Zuma said, while increasing land ownership for black people discriminated against during apartheid also formed part of the government’s plan to transform the economy.

“Let us not have others having the monopoly and others having nothing,” he said. “If we don’t do it as a country, we are sitting with a time bomb.”

Barclays Africa, controlled by the UK’s Barclays, was the target of the ANC Youth League on Friday. Protesters, who marched to the bank’s Johannesburg headquarters, demanded it pay back money from a bailout provided to a lender it bought before the end of apartheid.

This comes after the leaking of a draft report compiled by South Africa’s graft ombudsman that said Barclays Africa, which traded as Absa then, may have unduly benefited from state support when it bought Bankorp in 1992.  — (c) 2017 Bloomberg LP

  • Reported with assistance from Robert Brand and Renee Bonorchis

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  • William Stucke

    Mr Zuma, we used to have lots of small banks. Now we have a few big banks. Before you say that dominance by the “big four” must end, perhaps you should educate yourself about why there was consolidation in the industry in the first place?

  • David H

    Completely agree Mr. Stucke.
    I am perplexed as to why it’s deemed necessary by reporters to include Zuma’s age whenever his name is mentioned.
    Is it supposed to lend dignity and weight to his statements??

  • CharlieTango

    When you refer to “access to the economy for the black majority” do you mean the law abiding citizens of SA who have no issue with the banks or the corrupt ANC cadre deployments on the gravy train who are finding it difficult to hide the source of their ill-gotten gains?

  • This completely ignores the success of Capitec, which has grown like a mushroom in the dark by appealing to a) the previously unbanked and b) those who wanted a cheaper, simpler banking product than offered by the established banks. It’s also a justification for giving Postbank a full banking licence, resulting in..guess what? A state owned bank!

  • V.O.I.C.E

    Watch! A Gupta bank on the horizon no doubt with his son as CEO.

  • MelcolmX

    Same can be said for Zumba and the ANC’s corruption must end! We need a forensic audit on where SA’s tax money is going within the Government ministers. No more Zumba spin crap to his uneducated Cult. Lead by example? Uneducated, years incarcerated, no managerial experience or work experience. (does not include goat or cattle herding) This is one dumb President but learnt his trade on stealing.

  • Chris

    Say what ever your puppet master tells you to say….

  • thobile

    what’s the issue about giving Postbank a full banking licence and having a state owned bank? a bank that will sympathize with the poor citizens, regardless of race, colour or creed.

    A bank that will give investors of the 32 day notice investors a dignified interest on their investment, not the peanuts that are paid out by these crookish banks and and give themselves a huge amount. That is daylight robbery.

  • thobile

    what is it that will be wrong with that?

    LONG OVERDUE.

    Even BRICS commercial bank can be more than welcomed.

  • V.O.I.C.E

    No problem with new banks, competition will be good for us, but to me, connections & the implications thereof are my concern. Thank you for your engagement.