FNB: ANC goes bananas

Andrew Donaldson says the ruling party, of all people,
should know how futile censorship is
Where is it written — we were thinking, here at the
Mahogany Ridge — that it is mandatory for executives and
other busy people to take time out from whatever it is
they’re doing and respond to a summons from the ruling
party? Is it out of courtesy, or is it terror that compels the
corporates to drop everything at a moment’s notice and nip
off to Luthuli House for a frightful bollocking?
Had he so wished, could FNB chief executive Sizwe Nxasana
have rejected ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe’s
invitation to drop by yesterday, and given him the sort of
brush-off we’d no doubt receive had we asked the banker
to swing past the Ridge so we could touch him for a loan?
But meet they did. Mantashe had his delegation, and
Nxasana his. To have been, as they say, a fly on that wall.
Did the bankers struggle to keep a straight face as
Mantashe and company detailed yet again their objections
to people who speak their mind, and those whose opinions
differ to theirs?
Who could blame them for any nervous laughter. If his
reckless comments following the Amplats retrenchment
announcement were anything to go by, then it is clear that
Mantashe has very little grasp of how things work out there
in the big world. It should not have been at all surprising,
least of all to the ANC and government, that in the face of
massive strikes and the global slump in the price of
platinum, Amplats would want to cut back on production
and lay off workers.
The mineral resources minister, Susan Shabangu, was bad
enough; outraged, she darkly hinted that Amplats could lose
their mining licences — although President Jacob Zuma told
investors at the World Economic Forum at Davos that a
review of the company’s licences was not on the cards.
But Mantashe took it way further, and threatened to
"auction off" any shafts that Amplats mothballed. He told
SAfm, "They have stolen our money. They are a British
company now. They have a responsibility to talk to South
Africa on the operations."
He later denied his remarks had contributed to the rand’s
weakening against the dollar — and even gamely suggested
this wasn’t such a bad thing. "The rand is weaker now," he
told Eyewitness News, "which is good for mining in the
sense that it has actually increased the rand price of
platinum."
He had no regrets about his behaviour. "It can’t be correct,"
he said, "for society to protect the owners and the reckless
dealing with workers." Which may certainly be the case,
especially in the mining sector, but why then has
government kept mum about Harmony Gold’s plans to
retrench 6 000 workers? Could their silence have something
to do with the fact that Harmony’s Patrice Motsepe is a
substantial contributor to the party?
No matter. Clearly the post-Mangaung business-friendly
ANC does not exist. It is very much the same old, same old;
don’t do anything we don’t like, okay, else you get whacked.
And so it is with this FNB nonsense. Frankly, it’s
embarrassingly mawkish, crassly exploitative and, like most
commercials, an insult to intelligent people everywhere. But
it is not treason.
That child claiming, to the swell of cheesy strings, that she
was born "from the very roots of Limpopo, in the greatest
country in the world"? What was that all about? Did she not
know that it is Estonia or very probably Denmark that is
tops?
It is a pity that, thanks to the ANC’s objections, the best bits
of this campaign have been pulled from the bank’s website.
Judging by ANC spokesman Keith Khoza’s comments, these
clips deserved a wider audience.
Khoza was quite annoyed with one girl, Tiara, who said,
"Stop voting for the same government in hopes for change

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