By BO Staff Writer
This article was originally published in the Political Analysis website.
Deputy President of Black First Land First (BLF), Ms Zanele Lwana, stated her comments on the recent dismissal of four First National Bank (FNB) premium bankers, Siphesihle Jele, Simon Masimula, Sipho Coke and Xolani Nkosi. The employees were reportedly dismissed after they had commented on Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane’s marriage to a woman who is white, as well as an apparent lack of transformation and pay disparities at the bank. Below is a brief interview Political Analysis South Africa’s Stephanie Naidoo had with Ms Zanele Lwana.
Interviewer: What is BLF’s position on the dismissal of the four employees by FNB?
Zanele Lwana: The BLF has written a letter to the CEO of FNB, to which he has not responded. The BLF is not a party that is unreasonable, but we want to sit down with the CEO and see how best we can resolve this matter, then we are pushed into a corner to intensify our action against the bank as the Black First Land First movement.
Is the issue BLF has, concerned with the manner in which the employees were dismissed, or the rather reasons for which they were dismissed?
Our position is quite clear. The CEO of FNB Bank has been quite vocal on calling for the President of the country to step down through Save South Africa, and he even participated in the anti-Zuma protests that we have seen earlier throughout the year. And these are clear political activities of what happens in South Africa. Now, that the CEO has not had a disciplinary hearing against him. Why? – Because it is okay to attack the President of the country today, and call for a regime-change.
These workers were in a private chat calling for transformation of the bank, expressing their concern and dissatisfaction that their bankers cannot afford a better livelihood for themselves and their families, and their opinion on what is happening in the country. And our analysis, as the BLF, is that this was an unfair dismissal, but primarily, these workers were dismissed for not falling into the trap of calling for a regime-change agenda in this country. They were having a normal conversation on issues that affect us all as black people in this country, and if FNB wants to set a bar on who is allowed to have political views or not, they must start with their CEOs – they have no case against the bankers. That is why we say as BLF, that the bankers must be reinstated with immediate effect.
Is there anything you would like to add to the conversation that has perhaps been missed?
We have always said, as the Black First Land First movement, that bank institutions in South Africa, in fact including all financial institutions, are criminal organisations who make money out of price fixing and exploiting the black majority in this country, and FNB, as an institution that is owned entirely by white people, has no agenda to significantly change the livelihood of the black majority in this county. With employment grants in South Africa, you have a break to at least put bread on the table; so if FNB sets these four employees, and the case if clearly unfair dismissal, that means that there are families here that are going to bed hungry, and these people cannot change their lives for the better because they have no source of income that FNB, as racist as it is, was able to provide for these particular individuals.
One can deduce from the conversation that there appears to be a lack of transformation in FNB. Do you believe that there is a political agenda behind the dismissals? You have mentioned that the CEO of FNB has made quite clear his stance on the President. Is BLF of the opinion that this influences FNB’s dealings?
Not only FNB. We know that in South Africa, all banks, this includes Nedbank, FNB, Capitec, ABSA, Standard Bank and all major banks in South Africa, are white-owned, and all of these banks push an agenda of destabalising the country. This is why whenever the government seems to take decisions that do not favour the so-called markets or the Western Imperialism agenda, we lose amounts that equal to R500 billion, for example, when the then Minister of Finance, Nthanthla Nene, was recalled as the Finance Minister and they had to put pressure on government officials for David van Rooyen to be recalled, and put people like Pravin Gorhan, who have a track record of defending interests of white people and white businesses in this country.
FNB has a deliberate, and clear regime-change agenda, because the CEO of the bank has been quite vocal on corruption, as if the organisation of the bank in its very nature, is not the greatest corruption in society, ever.
So, FNB has a clear agenda of advancing their agenda of regime-change, of white settler monopoly capital, of keeping the black majority marginalised, and making sure that only those who are white own the means of production in the country, while we remain, landless, homeless, poor, and hungry as the black majority in the country.
In the letter submitted to the CEO, has BLF set a deadline for either a response, or for their reinstatement?
We had sent the letter the night before, and we had expected to get a response, at least, the following morning. We have not received a response.
We even took a step further, saying that “we would come to you”. But even though BLF was there today, the CEO was AWOL and FNB did not show any interest to resolve this matter with Black First Land First. So, it is a total disregard for what BLF stands for, and the justice which has been committed to for the black workers who were dismissed unfairly.
As BLF, going forward, what would you anticipate to do or what would you anticipate to happen next?
BLF is going to reflect on the action we have taken today, and if we are going to take any further action, we will be informing all media outlets we have. What is important now, as BLF, is to reflect on the activities today, and re-strategise on how we can tackle this matter going forward.