Standard Bank CEO warns racism is a risk to SA growth

We need a new phase of open, serious dialogue about race and racism – Tshabalala.
Sim Tshabalala, Standard Bank Group joint CEO
Standard Bank Group joint Chief Executive Officer Sim Tshabalala warned that persistent racial inequality and racism were a risk to South Africa’s stability and, ultimately, its economic growth.
The country’s competitiveness is “badly eroded by incomplete transformation and by racism,” Tshabalala said in a message to staff at Africa’s largest bank by assets, published by the Rand Daily Mail Internet news site on Tuesday, the contents of which were confirmed by the lender. Transformation is a term used in South Africa to refer to creating social and economic equality after centuries of colonial rule and apartheid.

Tshabalala’s comments come just over a week after Standard Bank suspended Chris Hart, an investment strategist, for tweeting that the victims of apartheid are “increasing along with a sense of entitlement and hatred towards minorities.” The lender said the comments had “racist undertones” and Hart later apologized, saying that he didn’t intend to cause offense and that his tweet was meant to be read in the context of a slowing economy.

In recent weeks, there has also been a public outcry over a white woman describing black beach-goers on social media as monkeys, a white TV talent show judge got fired after saying the incident was a free-speech issue, and a white TV presenter was suspended after ridiculing how a black government minister pronounced the word “epitome.” A black provincial government employee was suspended for saying all whites were racists and “we should act as Hitler did to the Jews.”

‘Risk management’

“What the last few days have taught us, I believe, is that we now need a new phase of open and serious dialogue about race and racism in South Africa,” Tshabalala said. “Speaking as a banker, therefore, we need this dialogue because a large part of our business is risk management and because country risk directly affects the cost of capital.”

While South Africa’s black middle class has grown since the end of apartheid in 1994, blacks on average still earn six times less than whites, according to the statistics agency. Government policies to promote blacks in Africa’s second-biggest economy have mostly helped a small group of people join the elite in one of the world’s most unequal countries.

“Transformation is a commercial imperative for the group,” Tshabalala said. “South Africa’s extremely high level of inequality creates grave risks to the quality of our politics, to the strength of our institutions and to the stability of our society. These worsen South Africa’s business environment and our country risk ratings which, in turn, damage our prospects for faster and more inclusive growth in South Africa and throughout the continent.”

South Africa, which holds local elections this year, narrowly avoided recession in the third quarter of 2015. The rand dropped 25 percent against the dollar last year and fell to a record 17.9169 to the greenback on Jan 11. Standard & Poor’s cut the the outlook on the country’s BBB- credit rating to negative from stable last month, indicating it may downgrade South African debt to junk. Fitch Ratings Ltd. has an equivalent rating of BBB- with a stable outlook, while Moody’s Investors Service rates the country’s debt one level higher.

©2016 Bloomberg News



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If inequality equals racism, then the Swiss are the most racist society on earth for Switzerland has the highest standard of living.

Middle class South Africans cannot be racists because they are doing their level best to destroy inequality by firstly studying hard and then working hard to pay taxes for social grants and employ those who are “less equal”.

In the rest of the world people get value in the form of infrastructure, medical care, protection from crime and a competent government in return for their taxes. South African taxpayers get nothing in return, they spend all their money on destroying inequality and racism. And still they are called racist by those self-pitying “victims” with a mentality of entitlement as Chris Hart put it.

Agree. I’m still trying to detect a racist element to what Chris Hart is reported to have said. Just another “inconvenient truth”. It’s ridiculous that he should be lumped together with Penny Sparrow who really should have kept her big trap shut.

The real racists are those who pay no taxes but expect everybody else to do so.

Agree the “I Wants” are the real racists.

If you have 10mins to read the original letter (link in the 2nd paragraph) then I highly recommend you do so.

Regardless if you agree with his views, the letter was very well written (a refreshing change from all the other opinion we are inundated with on social media).

“Sim Tshabalala warned that persistent racial inequality and racism were a risk to South Africa’s stability and, ultimately, its economic growth”

Uh yes.

Let’s talk about BEE. Dressing up a wolf as pink elephant and calling it a pink elephant doesn’t make it any less of a wolf.

The laws relating to BEE are racist. They dictate priority of economic and business transactions based on race.

Have they messed up the economy? ABSOLUTELY.
Has the economy stalled as a result of promoting race above skill and efficiency? ABSOLUTELY.
Has it removed those that can deliver but who are not the right colour from the competition of being service providers to government? ABSOLUTELY.

What do we have left? An inefficient economy that favours less experienced black workers ahead of highly skilled white workers and in turn leads to corruption to hide those inefficiencies when being forced to comply with these ridiculous laws.

I would love to hear how the ANC are going to fix our economy without dropping BEE. (And for that matter, Zuma)

This guy talks about inequality?? Below is his actual pay package…not a secret! I agree the RSA need to talk about ALL racism committed by ALL races in our country……The one Nelson Mandela stressed “belongs to all who live in it”!!!

Simpiwe K Tshabalala

Joint CEO – Standard Bank Group Ltd.

Basic Package: R7,378,000
Monthly income (est.): R614,833
Total Annual reward: R614,833

Sorry, annual reward: R R16,240,000

Not unexpectedly, nor suprising, are the comments above. Where people do not offer a single cogent and meaningful response to Mr. Tshabalala’s sanguine observation, and ability to speak the truth (regardless of whether you agree with him or not, and if not, then offer a well thoughout counter, not these thinly veiled malevolent and snickering comments)

What we see is people who seem to have a problem, not with inequality, and racism and its potential risk to the economy let alone growth thereof. What they seem to fail to grasp is that the growing multitides of the unemployed/underemployed and hungry, are by extension a risk for the owning class consisting of a few thousand on whose hands the vast amount of the country is vested. They fail to grasp that the risks increase with each empty stomach and additional hungry mouth added by idle hands, and the very same people will be asking why are robberies so high, why is rape on the increase failing to duly notate that these many poor people and uneducated people are not good for the country’s development and daily sanity.

And there are those who don’t even hide their displeasure that the likes of Tshabalala make ‘so much money’. In my own opinion, I think these people are used to having people of Tshabalala’s hue being garden boys (regardless of whether they are a boy or grown man)/by the way these very same people would be quick to adjust the title of such to ‘landscape artist’, or that of a maid to ‘domestic engineer’ or even ‘MD’ of a company, or that of a tea boy to ‘beverages manager’ if they saw an advantage to fudge a BEE Score card to get a government contract. They seem to conveniently forget that many of them are not qualified, either by academic qualification or practical experience to do the marvelous job that Tshabalala and his ilk do day in and day out, let alone qualified to apply for it. The fail also to realize that people like Tshabalala would be making more than 5 to 10 times more were they to be in places like the US, but chose to be here and do good in the country and do not need this infantile conduct. But I think they betray something much deeper than just childish conduct. But I will leave that to psychiatrists to analyze in the fullness of time.

Ohh Shame, your comments just generalises everybody above, and I do not, with respect, see any concrete contribution from yourself towards the above article! For your information, My family do not employ any of these people you assign the “grand” titles to, but do everything ourselves simply because we cannot afford to do otherwise. You have no idea what qualifications the other contributors hold, but again make some arrogant assumptions? When you stand up and preach inequality whilst earning massively more than 30 -50 times the lowest earning person in the bank, you definitely open yourself to some well earned criticism? Why do people like you always pull out the race card in response to other stupid people that do that…..childish or not? In my response, I did not use any reference to race, but stated some facts. It is called “freedom of speech”. something you have and I respect your right to exercise it! We live in a country that Nelson Mandela said: It belongs to everybody who lives in it” Have a good day.

I take exception to this comment and wonder if we’ll ever be able to have a constructive critical debate without having to bring race into the commentary. You seem like a well educated fellow, let’s move this country forward together?!

Please tell me how you came to the conclusion that Sim does a great job? Unless you are a banking executive, you probably do not understand what traits are required in order to do a “good job” at a bank. I do not know what this is myself but the historic share price performance of FSR over SBK seems to indicate that FSR is better managed – well done Sizwe and co! Your comments are racially biased but have no real substance.

I am all for empowerment of all less privileged in SA but the debate needs to focus less on pigment (which is a god given gift/curse) and more on equality of opportunity.

Please remember that many entrepreneurs of old built up enduring businesses that have stood the test of time (Thanks SAB, NPN, BTI, CFR, MDC) on a global stage. As a motivated (but less historically “privileged”) white individual, I am proud of these businesses irrespective of the colour of the owners. I do not, however, believe in the concept of dynastic wealth and believe that inter generational transfer of such enduring benefit does not promote equal opportunity.

The dialogue needs to shift more to freeing up that capital and empowering those less fortunate in SA so that they have the opportunity to build similar businesses. How we achieve this is more difficult. I would highlight what Allan Gray has done recently – give that a Google.

But I plead with you – forget for one moment what colour you and I are. Your comments simply insight hatred. Let’s hold hands instead of pointing fingers.

Sim, surely you should be doing some work instead of worrying about the pigment of your staff complement? Empowerment can only be achieved through equal opportunity – fixing our education system and empowering our youth.

One cannot rely on a pigment based social engineering experiment to achieve “empowerment” – we are making the same mistakes as the Nats by trying to divide the country based on the colour of their skins, something that no human being is in control of.

Let’s fight corruption and opulent excess (including “River Club” banking bonuses at Standard Bank), promote tolerance of each other’s cultures and histories and dig deep into our pockets to sort education out. We need more Curros and less ANC led education institutions.

End of comments.



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