“Chris Hart never claimed to be an economist”

By Drum Digital
06 January 2016

A social media storm has broken out over economist Chris Hart’s Twitter remarks on black people’s alleged “sense of entitlement and hatred” towards minorities. Now questions are being raised about the economist’s academic qualifications.

Some people on Twitter and Facebook have asked if he has any qualifications in economics at all. Hart, who has since apologised for the offending tweet, has gone to ground since his employer, Standard Bank, suspended him. His is due to face a disciplinary inquiry.

DRUM has established that he has no economics degree from his alma mater, Wits University. He only obtained a Bachelor of Commerce in 1996, and seems to have majored in only one subject, taxation.

One media report has even suggested that Hart has a Bachelor of Science degree from Wits. But his academic transcript, which has been leaked to DRUM, shows that he was academically excluded from this degree in 1983 after failing most of his course several times. He left Wits in 1985 with a Higher Diploma in Education.

Former Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni is among those who have expressed surprise that Hart has no qualification in economics and have publicly asked him to confirm or deny this.

Even though he has never falsified his qualification or claimed to have a degree in economics, his critics have questioned how he could have risen to the position of Chief Economist at Absa without a qualification in his field.

The man who succeeded Hart last year at Investment Solutions – where he worked before he took up his current job at Standard Bank –has three degrees in Economics.

FNB chief economist Sizwe Nxedlana has a Master of Commerce degree in economics, while Nedbank’s Dennis Dykes has a Master of Science degree from the London School of Economics.

When DRUM contacted Hart for comment, he said: “I am not prepared to engage you on this matter due to the disciplinary [hearing] that is pending. I have been instructed to keep quiet for now.”

But a source close to him said he had never claimed to be an economist, only an “investment strategist looking at economic fundamentals both locally and globally”.

See his qualifications in the photo gallery below:

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