South Africa

Black women-led businesses still excluded from Covid19 relief funding - Dlamini

Bathabile Dlamini, the president of the ANC Women’s League has revealed that the organisation is currently grappling with complaints from black women led businesses who are not receiving funding from the Covid-19 stimulus package, of which R200 billion is administered by the banking sector in South Africa.

In an interview with Independent Media on Monday, Dlamini said when women have applied for funding for their businesses during the global pandemic, most of them did not get it.

“We have many women calling, saying I have been to this bank and this bank, going from pillar to post and have not received any funding. Many have reported to me and we have since agreed to partner with Women of South Africa and other organisations. We were also involved in signing and delivering a memorandum to the president which had a number of signatories such as the Black Management Forum, Young Readers Club and the Young Women's Network,” she said.

She further reinforced the claim that the banks were discriminating against black women led businesses.

“Women are not involved or included; instead, companies are being imposed on black women led businesses; which means that the financial institutions are co-opting black women into the capitalist system. Historically, we have committed ourselves to a mixed economy without purging the system of its economic discrimination against women. In cases where funding is provided, the attitudes of financial services institutions and their loan structures make it difficult for women to repay the monies owed. The tactics of bullying and the underhanded hijacking of black peoples companies through unscrupulous lending terms need to be stopped,” she said.

However, in a statement on Monday, the Banking Association of South Africa (BASA) said banks in the country had, up to August 1, provided a cumulative R45.56 billion in financial relief and loan guarantees to individuals and businesses that were financially distressed due to Covid-19. “

Banks have voluntarily offered financial relief of R19.34 billion to individuals and of R12.96 billion to commercial and small and medium enterprises. Separately, R13.26 billion in loans were extended by banks under the Covid-19 Loan Guarantee Scheme,” the association said in a statement.I

It said that since March 2020, banks had offered payment breaks worth a combined R32.3 billion to individuals and small, medium and commercial businesses to help keep them afloat through the lockdown.

BASA further claimed that more than 84 percent of individuals and 95 percent of businesses who requested help, received assistance.

However, Adil Nchabeleng, the president of TransformRSA, a black empowerment lobby grouping said the statement released by BASA did not address the issues raised by his organisation.

He also said that the claim that 95 percent of businesses received assistance was “dubious” as there had been an overwhelming response from marginalised black owned organisations to prove otherwise.

“We are really disappointed that the Banks have once again chosen to demonstrate arrogance by issuing out a statement claiming that they have funded black people and black businesses to the tune of R45 billion rands and R537 billion in combined assets. This is clearly a public relations exercise meant to deceive and evade public outrage on the conduct of the banks,” he said.

He explained that the court action to take the banks to the Equality Court is not directed to BASA which he said was “a mere association”.

The action, he said, is directed at the banks in SA who have been meting out racial treatment towards black South Africans. He challenged the banks to disclose who they had funded.

“BASA is useless because they are not the banks. Our challenge and battle is directly with the banks. They are the license holder and the institution which as South Africans we all bank with everyday so we need the Banks to account for their actions. Black South Africans are outraged and are speaking out and sharing their lived experiences on how they have been treated at the hands of the banks,” he said.

Over the last few days, complaints and issues were raised on popular social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook under the #RacistBanksMustFall hashtag.

The hashtag has been among the top five trending hashtags on social media in SA since Friday.

"We urge all the banks to come out clean and account on this matter. They are holding public banking licenses and have misusing their power of issuing credit on discriminatory racist basis. We want the banks to account; we are not going to talk to gatekeepers. We are addressing the landlords who are the banks,” he said.

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