The women’s wing of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress(ANC) and the country’s main trade union federation, Cosatu, have accused 4 banks of pulling a “political stunt” by severing ties with companies owned by the influential Gupta family.
Earlier this month, four banks, Barclays Africa’s Absa, First National Bank, a unit of FirstRand, Standard Bank, Nedbank, investment bank Sasfin as well as the local unit of global auditors KPMG cut their business ties with the Gupta firms following allegations of undue political interference.
The banks have declined to give reasons for their action, citing client confidentiality agreements.
Cosatu has said the decision by the banks would lead to job losses.
General Secretary of the Women’s League of the ANC, Meokgo Matuba on Friday said: “A political stunt is being pulled by banks here. We raise these pertinent issues based on our interests on the livelihood of dependents of the workers of the company.”
Standard Bank and FirstRand have declined to comment on the allegations by the League and Cosatu.
Nedbank and Barclays Africa on the other hand have denied that their decisions to cut links with firms associated with the Gupta family were politically motivated.
The ANC has not yet publicly commented on the issue.
Oakbay Investments, which holds the Gupta family businesses, is scrambling to restore banking relationships with the four banks.
The company’s CEO, Nazeem Howa has said 7,500 employees could lose their jobs as it will be unable to pay their salaries if he fails to restore ties with the banks.
Oakbay, which runs several businesses ranging from technology to mining and media, had been turned down for a meeting to review its ties with at least one of the banks, its chief executive told Reuters on Thursday.
The relationship between the Gupta family and South Africa president Jacob Zuma has been a source of controversy for a while now, as the family is accused of wielding undue political influence over the president.