home Economics, Featured Maria Ramos and ABSA’s amnesia

Maria Ramos and ABSA’s amnesia

By Khaya Sithole

So I must confess – the first thing I did this morning was buy a copy of the Mail and Guardian – and I haven’t been this excited about buying a newspaper since I got my Matric results. The Public Protector’s report is much better than the State Capture Report and it shows the difference between a rushed report and a properly produced report.

Earlier today, I was informed that ABSA CEO Maria Ramos had decided to respond – and naturally was wrong in her interpretation of the issue.

As I mentioned last September, the ABSA saga has been interrogated multiple times by the current government, and all reports indicated that the bailout was illegal. Of all the reports, the only one that Maria chooses to refer to is the Judge Davis report which didn’t say ABSA was innocent, but simply said that Sanlam as the holding company had to pay back the money rather than ABSA.

And then it went wrong for Maria. In her explanation for why her bank is innocent, Maria indicates that the ABSA transaction was done at fair value – and for the second time this week – it appears that white capitalists and I, have a completely different interpretation of the concept of fair market value. Maria Ramos has missed the point or chooses to lie. The circumstances that pre-dated the actual ABSA formation had a direct influence on the value of the various assets that were combined to make up ABSA.

It is a fact that Bankorp illegally obtained R1,5 billion from the Reserve Bank. It is a fact that the governor of the Reserve Bank was a confirmed member of the Afrikaner Broederbond. It is a fact that the Finance Minister who approved the transaction was BJ Du Plessis and his brother AS Du Plessis was a Sanlam board member when all these transaction were finalised. It is a fact that his replacement as the Finance Minister – Derek Keys – was the chairperson of the same Bankorp that stole the money from the state. It is a fact that Bankorp took money from the state and paid an interest of 1%. Then they lent the same cash to the Reserve Bank and charged then 16%. Is this the type of transaction that implies market value in Maria’s eyes?

For Maria Ramos to allege that all these factors did not play a role in the valuation of assets that made up ABSA reflects this dangerous vacuum that people like her live in, where they are free to ignore the fact that the National Party (NP) manipulated the market in order to create an environment for its banks to thrive.

In other words, Maria Ramos is unfortunately either talking nonsense or needs a crash course in what makes up a fair market place. But then again, Maria and I have always been on opposite sides of the ideological debate regarding the treatment of South African assets.

I strongly believe that the land question needs to be resolved. South Africa’s most valuable piece of real estate is the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. A few years ago it was sold to white foreigners. The seller of that asset is now Trevor Manuel’s wife. Her name is Maria Ramos.


Read ABSA’s full response below: 

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