Chris Hart saga: Standard Bank chief executive takes hardline stance on racism

In the wake of Standard Bank economist Chris Hart’s suspension over an alleged racist tweet, his chief executive has warned staff that the bank “does not tolerate racism in any form, no matter how casual or trivial”.

Writing in an internal email to his staff, Standard Bank chief executive Sim Tshabalala said that “racism against anyone is always totally unacceptable and inexcusable”.

“I admonish all of us not to infringe on the linguistic, religious and cultural rights of others,” he said. “When we differ – which we will – we must always remain respectful.”

Hart is at the centre of a social media racist storm, after several white South Africans were targeted for posts last week that were either outright racist or had undercurrents of racism.

Others were just caught in the storm. Gareth Cliff lost his long-standing role on Idols, while Penny Sparrow had to vacate her home on the South Coast.  

Hart’s tweet on January 3 that got him suspended, said: “More than 25 years after Apartheid ended, the victims are increasing along with a sense of entitlement and hatred towards minorities.”

A group of prominent black South Africans filed a legal case against Hart and others, but some black entrepreneurs and academics have come out in support of the economist.

However, the stern message from Hart’s boss reveals how seriously Standard Bank is taking the matter.

Tshabalala, who is a popular and respected leader at Standard Bank, said all South Africans have a “legal and moral duty to work hard to promote the transformation of South Africa”.

“Transformation is not a choice,” he said. “We are committed to transformation by the aspirations and values expressed in our Constitution; by the legal force of its equality clause; and in terms of precisely detailed legislation including the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Act, the Employment Equity Act and the Labour Relations Act.”

“To build this better world for future generations of South Africans, a little patience and a degree of sacrifice is required from all of us,” he said.

“Transformation, then, is about creating a much fairer and more sustainable distribution of resources and opportunities,” he said. “But, as we have just been painfully reminded, it is also about the eradication of racism from our society – both because racism is a practical barrier to transformation and because racism is deeply wrong in itself.”

“As our history teaches us, racism can lead directly to systematic cruelty and appalling violence,” he said. “Open or subtle, racism hurts its victims terribly, weakens the fabric of society, poisons politics and erodes the trust and the optimism on which economic growth depends.”

Tshabalala said South Africa needs to enter a new phase of open and serious dialogue about race and racism in South Africa.

He will make it a mission of Standard Bank to ensure “business people enter this dialogue with the utmost thoughtfulness and willingness to listen”. – Fin24

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Latest stories

Explainer: Why it is difficult to mine in South Africa

The Fraser Institute's annual survey of mining companies is not entirely wrong, South Africa is a difficult place to mine, say analysts

Afrofuturism meets Wabi-Sabi at Design Joburg

Architects, fashion designers and tastemakers descend on Johannesburg’s premium design event

Asiatic black bear cubs saved from illegal wildlife trade in...

Two bear cubs, weighing only 2.4kg and 3.3kg, were rescued from a man intending to sell them on the illicit wildlife market

How the ANC wants to re-evaluate cadre deployment during policy...

The party's decision to relook at the deployment process could result in a broadening of the pool of candidates for positions.
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×