HUNDREDS of protesters marched down Cape Road in Port Elizabeth yesterday calling for changes in interest rates and in the roles and responsibilities of banks.
SA Communist Party (SACP) second deputy general-secretary Solly Mapaila led the march from Greenacres, under The Bridge, to First National Bank, where a memorandum of 21 demands was handed over.Mapaila said a system had to be found to release the huge resources of banks to develop society overall.
The march was an initiative of the SACP’s financial sector campaign coalition, which is calling for transformation and diversification of the financial sector.
The list of demands include that:
- Banks stop charging people exorbitant fees;
- Banks refrain from reckless lending which traps people in debt;
- Banks end evicting families; and
- Profits earned in the financial sector are used to fund education and skill development.
FNB provincial head Rocco Joubert received the memorandum on behalf of his own bank, Absa, Standard, Nedbank and Capitec.
Joubert said the memorandum would be referred to the Banking Association of South Africa.
About 500 people, mostly dressed in red, marched in Cape Road, temporarily disrupting traffic.
Among them was former Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Nceba Faku, who carried an ANC flag.
He said the protest was a demonstration against the “barbaric” treatment meted out by financial institutions.
“The SACP has done the right thing to reflect the frustration of ordinary people as we have recently seen in the #FeesMustFall campaign.
“Ordinary people are made to pay exorbitant bank charges,” Faku said.
ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa said the financial sector, particularly the banks, was exploiting the poor.
“Every day, ordinary people receive phone calls from centres offering products they cannot even afford.
“They impose debt on people. They want the poor to die in debt,” Kodwa said.
Not even the soaring temperature could stop the cheerful mood, with people chanting and dancing.
Khanyisile Qolohle, 49, of Uitenhage, who is a South African National Civic Organisation member, said he was unemployed, but the march offered him hope.
“I am one of the people who has been evicted by the bank. I am unemployed and I could not pay my bond.
“My house got sold and I had to move in with family members.”
Unemployed Despatch resident Rose Vrolik, 44, said: “High bank charges must go down. We must be able to buy houses without fearing huge interests on our mortgage bond.
“I believe that there will be a good outcome from this march.”
– Hendrick Mphande and Annelisa Swana