‘It’s time for SA banks to come to the SMME party’

Mmamoloko Kubayi, the head of the ANC’s economic transformation committee (ETC), has challenged the country’s banks to be “patriotic”, ahead of her meeting with the captains of industry.

In a wide-ranging interview with Sunday World, Kubayi, who is also minister ofhuman settlements, said the ANC is worried about the slow pace of transformation in the financial services sector.

A former tourism minister, Kubayi is head of the economic cluster in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s national executive and was responsible for co-ordinating South Africa’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan at a time when the economy has been battered by Covid-19 and unemployment is at its highest level.

Kubayi is particularly critical about the lack of access to credit by small businesses, pointing to the largely failed disbursement of the R200-billion loan scheme announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2020 to help businesses withstand the Covid-19 storm.

The country’s banks drew flak after less than R30-billion was extended to small businesses due to the strict criteria for the loans, despite them being guaranteed by the government.

“My message to the banking sector will be that they will have to be patriotic and come to the party, especially for SMMEs,” she said.

On Thursday, Kubayi was a keynote speaker at Progressive Business Forum policy dialogue, where she touched on the thorny issues of land and the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank.

“In certain other areas, progress in implementing our resolutions has not been adequate. We have not had sufficient support to amend the constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation in certain circumstances, although there has been progress with the passing of the expropriation legislation and strengthening of land redistribution processes,” Kubayi told the forum.

“We have not corrected the historical anomaly that the SA Reserve Bank has private shareholders. This is partly due to concerns of possible negative unintended consequences of a move to public ownership. These include the undue enrichment of private speculators who have been lobbying for such an intervention, as they hope to make massive financial gains from the process at the expense of South Africa and cost to the fiscus.”

Kubayi allayed fears that it is the ANC’s intention to have politicians call the shots on monetary policy. “What I am picking from the debate on the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank is the undertone that seeks to say simply change the mandate of the Reserve Bank so that we print more money. That is reckless.”

The ANC policy discussion document, which has been made public ahead of the party’s policy conference next month, asks business to contribute to economic growth by doing the following, among other interventions:

  • Ramp up local investment;
  • Make credit more affordable and accessible to consumers and SMMEs;
  • Make credit more affordable for companies that save and create jobs;
  • Support local procurement and SMME development;
  • Blow the whistle on corruption; and
  • Support a just transition to a low carbon economy and climate resilient society.

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