By Angela Wills
In the midst of economist Chris Hart’s suspension from Standard Bank due to his alleged racist tweet, the chief executive has alerted bank staff that the bank “does not tolerate racism in any form, no matter how casual or trivial.”
An internal email written to the staff by chief executive of Standard Bank, Sim Tshabalala read, “Racism against anyone is always totally unacceptable and inexcusable.”
He continued, “I admonish all of us not to infringe on the linguistic, religious and cultural rights of others. When we differ…which we will…we must always remain respectful.”
Hart has landed himself in the middle of a social medial racist stampede, after many white South Africans were the target of posts last week that were categorized as clearly racist or a form of racism in content.
There were some who were simply caught in the stampede. Gareth Cliff was removed from his long existing role on “Idols”, while Penny Sparrow was forced to vacate her home on the South Coast.
The tweet that led to Hart’s suspension went out on January 3rd and it read, “More than 25 years after Apartheid ended, the victims are increasing along with a sense of entitlement and hatred towards minorities.”
There has been a legal case filed against Hart and others by a group of high-end South Africans but there are some academics and Black entrepreneurs that have offered their support to Hart in the midst of this ordeal.
However, the direct and firm message from Hart’s boss at Standard Bank clearly asserts how serious they are taking this issue.
Tshabalala, a prominent and respected head at Standard Bank, said all South Africans have a “legal and moral duty to work hard to promote the transformation of South Africa.”
He says, “Transformation is not a choice. We are committed to transformation by the aspirations and values expressed in our Constitution; by the legal force of its equality clause; and in terms of precisely detailed legislation including the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Act, the Employment Equity Act and the Labor Relations Act.”
“To build this better world for future generations of South Africans, a little patience and a degree of sacrifice is required from all of us.”
Tshabalala said that South Africa should enter a new phase that promotes serious and open dialogue regarding issues of race and racism in South Africa.