After the sudden clamp down on the Gupta’s and their numerous dealings alleged to be trailing the bourgeois family, a lot of appeal is ongoing as regards the heavy lingering issue.
The closing of Gupta-linked bank accounts, the urgent need to pass the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment Bill, about which Andile Mngxitama, Mzwanele (né Jimmy) Manyi and the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) continuously rant and now the exposure of collusive activity in foreign exchange deals are not unconnected realities.
They are all part of a single and related process.
Since the 2008 financial meltdown there has been a belated but important global move to better regulate the financial sector and the dodgy clients that banks have been happy to serve.
In the South African case the question is not: why did Absa, FNB, Standard Bank and Nedbank close Gupta-related accounts? The real question is: why did they take so long to do so? Interestingly Manyi, Mngxitama and the ANCYL were uncharacteristically silent earlier this month when the state-owned Bank of China also closed the accounts of a Gupta-related company, VR Laser. Why the sudden silence from the mouth-pieces of the Gupta PR firm Bell Pottinger?
Presumably ranting against “monopoly capital with Chinese characteristics”, or “yellow monopoly capital” does not quite have the same demagogic appeal when looking for a racial cover-up for looting.
Given the exceedingly globalised and financialised nature of the contemporary world economy, any attempt to stiffen regulation and smoke out abuse, whether currency trade collusion, or money laundering, or tax haven stashes, requires international collaboration. Which brings us to another irony.
The Competition Commission’s collusion exposé is the result of considerable background, international co-operation. In fact, most of the dicey exchange rate collusion in this case didn’t occur here but amongst traders in New York.
The international coordination of moves to better regulate banks has been facilitated partly through G20. Guess who has been South Africa’s leader in that process? It’s none other than the Gupta’s pet hate, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
Dealing with the financial sector is a central component of a real (not rhetorical) second radical phase of our democratic revolution. Among other things, it’s about the defence of our national sovereignty whether against multi-billion, bank facilitated, dodgy capital outflows to Dubai, or the collusive manipulation of exchange rates in pursuit of bonuses by crooked traders in New York and Johannesburg.
We don’t know yet what impact this latter collusion has had on ordinary South Africans. A chorus of mainstream local economists are saying it will have had little or no impact. Perhaps, perhaps not.
But long before Manyi’s un-christening, the SACP, together with a wide array of social forces, has been taking up a multi-pronged financial sector campaign. Since the early 2000s we’ve campaigned against the lack of transparency in credit bureaux. We’ve highlighted the abuse of garnishee orders.
We’ve exposed the plight of millions of unbanked South Africans, and equally the excessive transactional charges imposed on those who are banked. We’ve criticised the role of the Department of Social Development and Sassa for pulling the plug on the Postbank in favour of an illegal contract with Cash Paymaster Services.
Above all, long before the Guptas had their bank accounts blocked, the SACP has highlighted excessive levels of banking concentration and called for support for public sector and cooperative banking.
These campaigns have not been grounded in the ambition to own our own bank, or obtain banking shares, still less to smuggle millions of rand to Dubai. We must act decisively against all monopoly banking cartels and parasitic looters alike.