“Big showdown” expected at Chris Hart hearing

By Drum Digital
21 January 2016

What has been described as a “big showdown” is expected to transpire at the Standard Bank headquarters in Johannesburg on Friday 22 January, when economics commentator Chris Hart appears before the bank’s disciplinary committee.

By Siyabonga Ngcangisa, Associate Editor

This much-awaited hearing will put Hart to task as he answers charges of inciting racial tensions, following a controversial twitter post he made two weeks ago. In it, Hart made suggestions that black people had a “sense of entitlement”.

The bank immediately issued a statement distancing itself from the comment, while also announcing that it had suspended the popular commentator. Hart had posted the infamous tweet barely a day after property agent Penny Sparrow’s outburst, where she referred to black people as “monkeys”.

Interviewed by DRUM this week about his pending hearing, Hart played his cards close to his chest.

“I can’t say anything at the moment. But yes, I’m appearing (in front of the disciplinary committee) on Friday,” he said.

But a highly placed Standard Bank official, speaking to DRUM on condition of anonymity, predicts that the hearing could produce fireworks.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen, whether he’ll be fired or not, but many witnesses have been roped in. It’s going to be a big showdown,” said the mole.

Hart’s controversial comment not only compromised his public standing, but also opened another can of worms for him. Shortly after the tweet, it was discovered that he was not actually academically qualified as an economist, but rather had a B.Com with economics as a major.

DRUM later obtained and published proof of his academic records, which show that that he was indeed not qualified as an economist, even though he had appeared as independent commentator on several media platforms, where he spoke in that capacity.

A close friend and colleague later defended him in an interview with DRUM, and said Hart “actually never called himself an economist”, but a “strategist”.

Hart rose to fame about 10 years ago after appearing on several broadcast stations, radio stations and print news publications and commented on economic matters. This turned him into a media darling and a prominent figure, while his commentary was widely respected as insightful.

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