The Guardian October 25,2000


South Africa:
The people have spoken banks must change

The South African Communist Party (SACP) is thrilled at  the 
overwhelming success of the 14 marches and five pickets it led on October 
21, covering all of the provinces of the country. Despite bad weather in 
many areas, thousands of ordinary people turned out in large numbers to 
support the SACP-led campaign to transform and diversify the banks and 
financial sector as a whole.

"Indeed, as the first SACP (independently) led nation-wide marches and 
pickets in close to 45 years, the Red Saturday marches and pickets were an 
unqualified success", the SACP said in a statement following the actions.

People from outlying and rural areas (particularly in the North West, 
Northern and Western Cape provinces) travelled long distances to join the 
Red Saturday marches and pickets against Redlining. All in all close to 
40,000 people took part.

Red Saturday was preceded by a build-up week of action in parts of the 
country. During the mobilisation process, many people gave anecdotal 
evidence of the frustrations they had in their attempts to use banking 
services.

The marches and events were also joined and endorsed by a wide range of 
organisations representing many sections of the people.

These include the SACP's alliance partners (ANC & COSATU), local burial 
societies, savings clubs, trade unions, NGOs, co-operatives, and small 
businesses.

"This demonstrates how many of our people are affected by indifferent and 
exploitative capitalist financial institutions", the SACP said.

"The success of today's mass action clearly demonstrates how the still un-
transformed banks undermine the daily lives and struggles of our people for 
a better life.

"Through today's actions, transformation and diversification of the 
financial sector has been firmly placed on the national agenda. Our people 
are running out of patience with the anti-transformation agenda of the 
financial sector"

"This Red Saturday is only the first step in an ongoing mass mobilisation 
campaign."

The SACP has proposed a National People's Conference on the Transformation 
and Diversification of the Financial Sector and has submitted a set of 
demands to the Government and the Banking Council of South Africa to 
consider and reply by December 16, 2000.

These demands, raised by the people, include:

*  urgent legislation to establish adequate policy, legal and financial 
frameworks for the building and strengthening of co-operative and public 
banking sectors;

*  transformation and diversification of the financial sector in line with 
the country's developmental objectives;

*  community re-investment by banks; and the diversification of the 
financial sector;

*  urgent summit on the financial sector, as an inclusive stakeholder 
sectoral summit to map out a strategy to transform the sector;

*  immediate moratorium on redlining and on the classification of black 
residential areas and productive enterprises as high-risk or non-
creditworthy;

*  immediate end to racism and sexism and discrimination against the 
working class in general in the lending practices of banks;

*  government, in consultation with the people, to identify ways in which 
government owned financial institutions can be made more effective in 
serving the developmental needs of the people.

"Without satisfactory results, we will be calling on our people to step up 
popular mobilisation directed at banks. We will also call on government to 
take an even stronger, more interventionist approach in future", warned the 
SACP.

"On our part, the SACP will go out on extensive consciousness building, 
engagement with, and mobilisation amongst all our people across the length 
and breadth of our country collecting information about how banks undermine 
our people and people's demands for the transformation and the 
diversification of the financial sector."

"As the SACP, we are pleased at the level of popular and conscious support 
we enjoy amongst our people, which was shown both before and during the 
events of today."

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