The parliamentary hearings on transformation in the financial services sector come at a time when legitimate concern over the slow pace of transformation has become conflated with political agendas.
Fears about high levels of concentration in the economy have been commandeered by a narrative about white monopoly capital.
The need to address inequality urgently underpins the call for radical economic transformation and, although the financial sector must face its demons in this regard, the matter appears to have been appropriated to serve a sinister agenda that became clear after the politically connected Gupta family’s South African bank accounts were closed.
In opening the hearings on transformation in Parliament’s finance standing committee this week, chairperson Yunus Carrim said the process would be thorough.
“The financial sector is too crucial to the economy to make any immediate decisions but, on the other hand, things can’t stay as they are, even if there have been some improvements since 1994.”
Various parties provided input on the matter.
The submission by the Banking Association of South Africa (Basa) outlined the progress made in the sector and highlighted how banks have exceeded some key targets set by the Financial Sector Charter. These include employment equity targets, procurement and enterprise development targets, empowerment financing, direct ownership and access to financial services.
But the department of trade and industry submitted that the level of compliance with the charter in the sector as a whole is low.