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S. Africa’s ruling ANC slams bank ad as ‘attack’

Published on 21/01/2013

South Africa's ruling ANC on Monday accused the high street bank FNB of attacking its leaders in an advertisement addressing problems of greed, poor education and security facing citizens.

First National Bank’s ad campaign “How can we help you?” features a speech by a 17-year-old student lamenting a multitude of issues that plague the country nearly 19 years after the end of apartheid.

Student Kelly Baloyi urges South Africans to overcome “greed, mistrust” as well as “petty politics” and rampant illiteracy.

But the “appalled” African National Congress, which has been in power since 1994, said the commercial put the party, its leaders and the South African government under attack.

It slammed the advert as an “undisguised political statement that makes random and untested accusations against our government in the name of discourse”.

“This behaviour by FNB does not assist the country to move forward because such advertisements will breed resentment of government and its programmes of development,” it added in a statement.

The campaign, released via the website, youcanhelp.co.za, was also met with fierce criticism by the ANC Youth League, which claimed it “agitates for an overthrow of our government.”

“We call upon South Africans to close ranks against what is (a) treacherous attack on our country,” the league said in a statement.

“Where there are challenges the ANC government continues to work with the people to resolve their problems.

The league called the advertisement “treasonous” and labelled it a “lame attempt to recreate an Arab Spring of some sort in South Africa.”

The advert’s creators and FNB said the campaign was designed to have a positive impact.

“We want to participate in the social dialogue of the country and we want to have something meaningful and positive to say that can hopefully have an impact,” Brent Tollman of agency MetropolitanRepublic said.