Trade union Solidarity want to ensure that R18bn worth of business – a portion of the money that approximately 100 000 of its members invest at Absa – is taken away from the bank unless Absa provides the assurance that it will not continue to interfere politically in sport.
Daniëlla du Plooy – Sport24
This follows Absa’s stance on Wednesday that they have a right to have an opinion about the issue. Absa are one of the South African Rugby Union’s (SARU) biggest sponsors.
A controversial SMS also surfaced in which Absa deputy chief executive Louis von Zeuner apparently requested that SARU president Oregan Hoskins looks into the number of black players in rugby.
According to the Solidarity Movement (which includes Solidarity, AfriForum and Helping Hand) about 65% of its members have Absa accounts, with an annual turnover of R18bn that flows through the bank.
Prior to Solidarity’s ultimatum, Absa hit back at critics saying that transformation is an important consideration for it as a major sponsor.
Chief executive Maria Ramos admitted that Absa had raised questions about transformation.
“Not only does it mirror our values as an organisation, but also part of the commitment that rugby has made to Absa as a sponsor,” the statement said.
“It is therefore appropriate that Absa, as a sponsor, raise questions and issues related to it.”
Solidarity chief executive Flip Buys wrote to Ramos saying that they (Solidarity) are “perturbed about the manner in which Absa is neglecting its traditional support base and Afrikaans speakers in particular”.
“The expansion of Absa’s client base to other communities does not mean that Absa should turn its back on its origin and clients that have supported the bank loyally for many years,” wrote Buys.
“The unusually hefty reaction that AfriForum’s campaign has elicited, shows the high level of public frustration.”
On Tuesday an SMS surfaced in which Von Zeuner apparently wrote to Hoskins: “Regan, I think you should write to major unions on black players – judging from today’s games Lions 2, Bulls 1, Cheetahs 2 – they are not respecting the spirit and goals of transformation. Louis.”
Beeld last week reported on a letter by Hoskins to provincial unions about the lack of transformation. It was apparently written two days after von Zeuner’s SMS.
AfriForum then started the campaign against Absa.