Hey, Absa, it’s time to pay back the money

Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

Wednesday. I’m sitting re-reading the Public Protector’s preliminary report into Absa’s R2.25 billion bailout by the SA Reserve Bank when the Nats were closing up shop and everybody who knew what was going on was either getting paid, or getting ready to get paid, or looking the other way, or all of the aforementioned.

I’m wondering whether or not Absa – if the findings stand – is going to do a Jacob Zuma and pay back the money when I get an SMS message on the almost apartheid-era vintage cellphone I’ve been using since my iPhone died on New Year’s morning.

I check my phone. It’s Absa, with a reminder to make sure there’s cash in my account on the 25th to finance my repayment on my personal loan. F*cking lovely.

The report is an interim one and may change “dramatically”, we are told, but it says that these cats owe the fiscus two and a quarter billion big ones in interest on the cash they were so kindly given and they’re sitting on my bald head for a couple of grand that is the interest on money I borrowed and paid back years ago.

This is wrong.

Think about it. These Muppets – or the Muppets who ran Absa when it was still Volkskas, or Voorvel, or whatever it was called when I was stupid enough to open an account with them – got sorted by the Nats. Took R1.125 billion it got at 1% from the state, invested it in government bonds and made 15% in interest and paid the 1% back. Not a bad deal at all.

The tasty transactioning didn’t end there. They then allegedly took the proceeds of bailout and loaned it to thousands of people – myself included – at exorbitant rates for the intervening two and a half decades.

According to my disbarred lawyer mate, this means that all the cash they’ve loaned out – to me and thousands of other punters - has traces of the bailout, as it were, and should be forfeited to the state.

Taking his logic further, and factoring in no about-turn by the Public Protector, and the Absa lot should be talking to their lawyers, rather than breathing down my neck a week ahead of every payday, or at the very least be volunteering to clear the air and hand over the money.

My cellphone goes off again. It’s a second payment reminder from Absa.

Follow me on Twitter @PaddyHarper1

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