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."