FNB backs down over anti-crime campaign

First National Bank has cancelled its anti-crime initiative which was designed to encourage President Thabo Mbeki to make crime his priority, the early edition of the Sunday Times reported on Saturday evening.

According to the newspaper First Rand bank chief executive Paul Harris and his executive team pulled out of the R20-million campaign at 3.30pm on Friday. The print, radio and television adverts highlighting the campaigns were canned by management.

Also on Friday, after hearing of the campaign, officials from the Presidency and the government’s security cluster met with the bank’s managment.

Harris refused to comment on who he had met with from the Presidency but when asked if he had discussed the campaign with the government on Friday he said: “I don’t want to talk about who we spoke to other than to say it was a broad range of stakeholders—all people that we felt could in some way be impacted on this.”

Government spokesperson Themba Maseko said the campaign was a form of incitement against Mbeki.

“Positioning themselves as an opposition party is not appropriate ... Trying to incite people to behave in a certain way towards the head of state cannot be condoned,” he said.

As a component of the campaign, the bank had commissioned 2,8-million pamphlets with a patriotic message about crime. On each was an envelope addressed to the president with the postage already paid. - Sapa

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