Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has revealed that the party is now pushing for the establishment of a state-owned bank that will operate along the lines of the defunct VBS Mutual Bank.
The party has already submitted a private member’s bill in Parliament to set up a state-owned bank.
This comes as the EFF has been patting itself on the back for setting the national agenda ahead of next year’s general elections.
The red berets played a key role in ensuring that the ANC support the expropriation of land without compensation.
“We want a state-owned bank that will work like VBS. VBS was giving people who were building houses on communal land loans and bonds.
"We need a bank that is going to intervene,” Malema told role players in the financial sector during the EFF’s manifesto consultation assembly, which took place in Bryanston, Sandton, on Friday night.
The assembly was attended by businesspeople and bankers, among others.
Malema said some “crooks contributed to the collapse of VBS”, but added that the bank was targeted by the mainstream because municipalities were no longer banking with the country’s major banks.
“VBS was fresh air in the banking sector in South Africa. I was shocked that the EFF didn’t oppose the liquidation after it said we must rescue the bank,” he said.
“We must be ashamed of ourselves. It was one of the banks owned by black people in a sector that is white dominated.
"The money that was supposed to go into the mainstream was now beginning to go into a mutual bank. We still did not rescue it.”
He said VBS failed “because it was told that all the money of the municipalities which is there must all go away. There was nothing wrong with VBS receiving the money and putting it in other things. The only wrong was when they took [the money] for themselves.”
Municipalities deposited millions into VBS – going against the National Treasury directive that they not invest money in mutual banks.
The Pretoria High Court this week issued a final order to liquidate VBS after the SA Reserve Bank’s Prudential Authority applied for the final liquidation of the bank.
Malema also announced that the EFF would target the financial sector, saying it was not transformed.
“We must disrupt the financial sector because without any disruption, it won’t be transformed. We need leadership that is not afraid to change the status quo.”
Malema also suggested that there was a need for a powerful education system in the country.
“There shouldn’t be a school in South Africa that has no mathematics, particularly in the rural areas. We must give our people everything that was denied them, and at the centre of that is education.
"We equally have to up our game when it comes to the pass mark. We cannot be a generation of 33%. If you pass with 33%, it means you know nothing.”
A banker in attendance said the EFF’s message resonated with most young professionals.
“We don’t have any other home. That is why people end up being lost and going to the DA. We are experiencing systemic issues in the financial sector.”
An Indian businessman said: “The perception in the Indian community is that the EFF is here to run us down and take our businesses.”
Malema gave the assurance that no Indians or whites would be chased out of South Africa.
“They will leave voluntarily because the empowerment of black people threatens privilege,” he said.
EFF national chairperson Dali Mpofu told the audience: “We have proven that for the EFF to make things happen we do not necessarily have to be in power.
But it will better if we are in power. It would be better if you do vote for us.”
He said the purpose of the meeting was to engage with citizens about the burning issues they wanted to see highlighted in the EFF’s manifesto.