Lawrence Twigg
Lawrence Twigg

ANC and FNB, my new favourite soapie

I have been following the soap opera between the ANC and FNB with interest and more than a little cynicism. The reaction in the aftermath too has been very intriguing. It seems that some banks are determined to be involved in matters which make me wonder if they really are banks or wannabe retailers, politicians, social media stars or what? Banks have been under the cosh a lot in recent times, especially since the great smack of 2008. In South Africa we seemingly missed a lot of the pain our international compadres suffered but it nonetheless sparked a flurry of thinking that would make John Freame and Thomas Gould (founders of Barclays Bank) wheelspin in their graves.

Five years ago African Bank bought Ellerines. What the hell? Last year Absa cemented a deal whereby they bought control of the Edcon debtors book. The red bank has been in a joint venture with Woolworths Financial Services since 2008 and Nedbank have a relationship with Pick n Pay since 2002. Capitec have expanded so rapidly that most retailers wish they were a bank. And somewhere in all of this banks go on, well, trying to be bankers.

But back to our soap opera. What I find so amusing is that for the last year and a bit we have been inundated, bombarded and irritated eventually by the very clever Steve, beep bank campaign run by FNB. Was it successful? No doubt. Was it unique and cleverly timed? No doubt. Did it bring kudus and accolades and customers? Oh yes. And did it make them appear arrogant and smug? Yebo! Oh, and did hearing that Steve ad eventually make one want to puke into a lap while driving? Damn right. And then in December the ultimate wank ad on TV showing the chief executive of FNB, Michael Jordaan, waxing lyrical about how great his staff where and what a fabulous job they had all done and blah blah fish paste. And the media also crowned him the king of twitter as CEO’s goes.

Fast forward to mid-January and oh my word does the pooh hit the fan. The ”You can Help” TV campaign causes all hell to break loose. The world’s most innovative bank suddenly finds itself cowering behind dustbins in a downtown Johannesburg alley as the great and mighty government launches its own bullshit tirade against what was seemingly a freedom of speech right every company has to reach out to the citizens of this land. Bliksem, I used to get so excited watching Isidingo back in the old days — when banks were still banks — but now this song and dance is something else.

Suddenly the turquoise bank are having major second thoughts and not only pull the campaign off all media platforms but they then huddle with the great masters and come out rather shamefaced having made a public and embarrassing apology. And this is where I really smile because nowhere do I read that Michael is involved. Oh no. This is a job for the big boss, Sizwe Nxasana. So I wonder, was Michael not invited to the grovel session or had he just pissed the ANC off too much. I did read too that our innovation champion is certainly not going to resign. Who me? I wonder if his indignation is the result of him not really supporting the risqué campaign. In any event there he is in his fox hole with a staaldak on, dodging the bullets.

I applaud FNB for what they have done in the retail banking space over the past 12 months. They claim to have on boarded one million customers as a result of the Steve noise. Good for them. However, I know just like you, dear reader, that we are mostly so frustrated with bad service, endless phone calls, bad manners and overpaying on our bank charges. We would fire them all if there was another way, I’m sure. I bet FNB they don’t tell how many clients they lost in that period and they certainly won’t be telling what the fallout is from our soapie. As Steve would say, the beep bank? I think not. More like the Bo Peep bank. Pass the scotch Steve and by the way, do try to stick to your knitting in future.

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  • For the anally correct and the politically retentive
  • Zapiro, monkeys and red herrings
  • The fragmented bodies of consumerism
  • The Mazda CX-3 advert — slick, stylish and sadly sexist
    • ian shaw

      FNB charges now R18 for every deposit payment on your FNB credit card.. If you owe any money on it, you’d have to pay this R18. deposit charge If you owed only this R18 from the previous month, and tried to pay it off, you’d be charged again R18. This , in another words, is a debt that simply cannot be paid off because any payment draws another charge of the same amount. A veritable banker’s dream! After I got mad too many times, I cancelled my credit card. At that time, however, the clerk said that since I signed up voluntarily for the card, I cannot cancel it!.What a crock! After I threatened her, she finally gave in and let me cancel the card. These examples show the kind of underhanded money extraction policies and untrained clerks that FNB lets loose on the public. I shall never again have anything to do with them.

    • KESH

      Hi there, firstly I think that the ad campaign was not carefully thought of and planned and executed
      One with expect people with university degree to have thought of the aftermath and implications of such an campaign, I think FNB is a bank that are very proud and come out very arrogant in there Steve adverts, I think that in their quest to gain market shares and clients they lose the plot and loses there values, they lose their integrity by attacking other organisations and there flaws

      They need to relook there advertising approach as it alienates potential clients

    • Dave Harris

      Well said Lawrence!
      These out of control corporate BANKSTERS represents the vilest aspects of human nature – their insatiable greed that triggered the worst world wide recession in living memory! If FNB was truly interested in uplifting people from poverty, it should first start by working together with other BANKSTERS, by not raping the poor with exorbitant bank fees, promoting more blacks into executive management, cease the blatant exploitation the middle class with outrageous interest rates!

      For FNB to now engage in partisan politics by pretending to act in the best interests of society using innocent children shows how brazen they’ve become.

    • Tofolux

      @Lawrence, your applause for FNB is nothing but veiled support for anything anti-ANC and by virtue anything anti-Black. Lets unpack this thing sobrely. If any business national or international comprises their business stature it surely comprises their integrity. No-where in the world does any bank advertise against the govt of the day, so why should it be allowed here? Secondly, the complete lack of conceptual thinking around business makes your position woeful becos how do you explain factoring eg? But this lack of comprehension exposes something quite cynical from the anti-black brigade ie anyone who criticises this country becomes their friend. You have completely ignored the fact that FNB has apologised. In fact, in high-fiving them, you show support for disloyalty not only to this country but to the very business FNB relies on. FNB does not only trade nationally. Many transactions on whatever basis, happens all over the world. If FNB relies on this govt to provide good governance,policies, securities etc.And if SA ranks no 1 out of 142 as having the best regulation iro security exchanges what does this do for the credibility of FNB or any other bank? How could any person/business trust the integrity of FNB.What FNB did is undermine even our SA banks ranking in the world ie NO2. Now sure those with very narrow agendas will not see the danger FNB has gotten itself into and it is therefore correct to call them to order. They were wrong they apologised and rightfully so.

    • Tofolux

      Correction: comprises to read compromises. (eish this queens english)

    • seriously

      @Tofolux you express it as anti-anc and anti-black by extention , so then do you also say that there is no place for white people in this country and in the ANC? Because if you accept premise 1 to be true the second part can be excluded as it isnt mutially exclusive. And another question why attack directly and not heed the advice of the children ? Wouldnt it have been better to listen and to fix the problems than to attack directly . Do we live on a society where children should be seen and not heard? All the problems identified is correct and is any governments obligation to fix . Maybe im wrong , but dont we live in a democracy with human rights? Hush-hush is the attitude our government adopts to any critism and anything it doesnt like . For a democracy to work you need to listen to everyone , a democrasy doesnt mean elect the party and thats it for the next four years. And if the ANC had nothing to feel guilty about then they had no need to react like that . What justifies 200m on security for a house of the preesident ? For that amount of money how many people could have been helped whether by housing , medicinal access , legal help ect . When the day comes where we live in a society where there is less crime , less corruptiom , more work , better quity of life for the poor , where schools get text books and where thought goes into what gets done , how to fix roads without e-toll ect then ill vote ANC and not speak out , but this is not what is currently happening .

    • michael

      Tofolux, what was said by the participants in the FNB campaign was the truth but it was wrong because it was directed at the anc government and everybody knows it except the anc worshippers.

    • The Creator

      Tofolux, not to join too large a chorus of disapproval — but don’t you think you could try reading the article before posting comment on it? Then you might be able to restrain yourself from looking so extraordinarily foolish, even if you were still wrong.

    • Tofolux

      @Creator, if you do not see the cyniscm then I suggest you remove the blue-tinted glasses
      @seriously, suggest you look at the meaning of afro-pessimism and I would appeal for you not to make assumptions on my behalf because not only are those assumptions fictitious, it is quite far-fetched.
      @michael, what is the meaning of an apology?

    • Stephen

      Nice article, enjoyed it from whence it comes.

      In Germany; cash withdrawl charges at your own bank are free – but one is charged up to the equivalent of R50 per withdrawal. (Not adjusting for parity, etc, but you get the drift.) Something in that.

      Tofolux is just unable to refrain herself from being inordinately foolish. Even if she does start reading the atricles she so rages against.

    • seriously

      Firstly if you see a comment vs ANC as anti black then my assumptions is correct , as two cant be independant and mutaully exclusive . And here:
      The Critical Cynic
      Dear Tofolux:I am so sorry you received an inferior education and are unable to see things very clearly as a result. I’m sorry you cannot see that FNB’s apology was a business decision and not a moral one. I am sorry that you are unable to see how the ANC abuse their position and blur party and state lines. I am particluarly sorry that you interpret an anti-ANC stance as being anti-black and I am very sorry that you are unable to see how millions of black South Africans are being pushed to the side by an elitist, corrupt, nepotistic and opportunistic minority. I am sorry that your life experiences have turned you into a bitter black racist, an anti-white (or is it just anti white male?) nationalist with a racist xenophobic axe to grind. I’m sorry you fail to see the truth in the FNB situation, that you have truly become one who sees the world as you are and not as it is. I acknowledge that Apartheid most likely had the most to do with this way you see the world and I’m sorry it has damaged you so obviously.
      I am however, not sorry for seeing the ANC as a bunch of thin-skinned bullies with a grade 2 playground approach to politics. That just makes me cringe in embarrassment that they are out there representing me and my (your?) country. I’m just sorry that so many South Africans are being so poorly represented.

    • Lawrence Twigg

      Dear Tofolux. Thanks for taking the time to read my article. I’m afraid, however, that somewhere you have me confused with an FNB client and/or fan. I said that I applaud FNB for what they have done in the retail banking space in the past 12 months. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the ANC or whether someone is black, white or purple. They did a good job marketing themselves. They gained market share. They also became arrogant and smug. Me a fan? Sorry to disappoint.
      I hope you keep reading future articles.

    • DeeGee

      @Tofolux: in your response to seriously, you said “… I would appeal for you not to make assumptions on my behalf because not only are those assumptions fictitious, it is quite far-fetched.”

      But that is what you do all the time. The majority of what you post is based on exactly that.

      And I notice you avoided the question. As usual.

    • The Critical Cynic

      I love how Harris endorses and Tofolux berates the article – poles apart in shared ideology yet both manage to miss the point of the article, i.e. The thin-skinned ANC response to the Ad campaign has turned the situation into a farce, a soap opera. If they don’t do something about their condition they’ll just continue to end up red-faced with eczema.
      Here’s a dose of reality for both of you – you feel the ANC got their vindication (just as you probably felt they were vindicated over their reaction to the spear), but the whole world knows what really happened is:
      1. FNB put forward an ad campaign reflecting a reality the ANC don’t want to face up to, seeing as they are responsible for the way the country has been governed for the past 2 decades (do we include the GNU?)
      2. ANC cry like little babies (after all the truth does hurt) and demand an apology by means of thinly veiled threats
      3. FNB decide there’s no point taking on the bully in public and give him his apology.
      4. Whole world watching know exactly what happened. ANC and SA government lose further credibility on world stage. Once you reach laughing stock level it’s hard to regain any credibility
      1. School kid is overheard saying negative remarks about bully, by the bully.
      2. School bully says “If you don’t apologise I’m gonna F*&k you up”
      3. School kid being bullied decides it’s easier to do what he says than risk the consequences
      4. School kids watching know exactly what happened

    • The Critical Cynic

      @ Harris – you make very valid points about the BANKSTERS. Are you a member of New ERA yet, aware of their fight against the 5 big SA banks? Of the 19 million South Africans in debt, 60% have missed at least one payment and almost half have missed at least three payments. We must act urgently to bring relief to those suffering and avoid a full scale economic meltdown.
      please read here:

      The connection you doggedly ignore is that the Government and Business are still in bed with each other, and the change to an ANC government did not disolve this relationship. To launch an attack on the Banksters without attacking the Gangsters who enable and condone their activities is rather short-sighted (how am I doing on my diplomacy?)

      For an alternate, entirely credible, take on the FNB apology to the ANC have a look at

      I get regular calls from my bank telling me how I qualify for wonderful revolving credit, personal loans, and wouldn’t I like to buy a new car (no, my 1996 vehicle is running just fine thanks)

      I wonder if anyone in the bankng community still believes in living within one’s means, delayed gratification, discerning between wants and needs, and, dare I say it, learning the truth in the saying “Less is more”,

    • Tofolux

      @Lawrence, but heres the thing. Everyone is beating around the bush by having discussions (or in their heads, debates) around side issues and they avoid discussing the core issue which is FNB and their role and relevance in society. The title of your discussion says a lot because it seeks to create an illusion that this is not a serious issue. This issue, if you understand this thing called “role and relevance” becomes critical is the face of the economic situations of banks, worldwide especially with the credit crunch the second wave of an economic ”downturn” that is expected in Britain. So inasmuch as you see this as a failed tv ad campaign, it is simply more than that. Hence they were ”klapped” and rightly so.
      Oh and by the way, why is it that you guys have this behaviour and trait that suggest that you have monopoly on ideas and when we counter, you then judge our contribution as rhetoric and this despite sheer hypocritical non-sense that is contributed by the usual suspects?

    • The Critical Cynic

      @ Tofolux
      One of the great things about a good education, especially one in English, is that you gain the ability to read an article and comprehend what an author intended. This is particularly wonderful when the author is also sufficiently capable with the language to write precisely what was intended. You also get to use idioms in the right context.

      I’m inclined to say to you “Let’s unpack your response soberly” (note how we English spell soberly) but to be honest, I’d rather have a party (or a funeral) over the hilariously illogical way you see and comprehend reality, and a lot of articles too. If that’s sober thinking I may as well consider taking up drinking, because I’ve heard some drunks speak less kak.

      I find it very sad you lack this clarity of comprehension. It leads into never ending misinterpretation and explanation sessions along the lines of ” you said this and here’s my problem with it….” only to have the other person say “Ja, I said that, but what I really meant was…..” . Despite my sarcasm I really am sorry you was on the receiving end of apartheid. It has seriously clouded any objectivity you may have once had, not to mention given you a poor command of English.

      PS – why are you so concerned about a business entity compromising their integrity (your interpretation) when you seem to have no such concerns about our government? Frankly I think the ANC regularly compromise their ‘integrity’ Big Time on the world political stage

    • Mr. Direct

      Loved this article. If you cannot laugh about these kinds of stories, you would only end up crying.

      Bankers telling politicians that they are negatively impacting the lives of the people of this country – my goodness – that is like Dave Harris telling Tofolux…

    • seriously

      @cynic . Just stop talking to tofolux , he doesnt want to understand so he wont . I share your opinions and liked the article . He posts same in all forums and he doesnt have any cards to play so he always falls back on the race card in all his posts .

    • Kevin Chetty

      I enjoyed reading the article. I do not follow soapies but was intrigued by the events that unfolded between the ANC and FNB. This was my opinion leading up to an apology from FNB. The following came to mind:

      1. Have we become an over sensitive society?
      2. What about freedom of speech?
      3. Do banks have a right to promote social agenda’s through marketing messages?
      4. Does controversial marketing sell?
      5. Was this a litmus test on the state of mind of our youth?

      I have done many assignments and seminars on Innovation and Alternative Models in Banking, and often use FNB as a good example of innovation and making it possible for clients. YES, they are leading the pack in regards to customer on-boarding and market growth. However, when I watched the advert, I asked myself, was this appropriate for banking? In my humble opinion, I think not! I agree with the author, what has happened to banking of lately. I recently had breakfast with a retail banking friend whom has been through many challenges in regards to cancer and MS. He said to me that he spends most of his day through a lens. If I look through the lens in SA, I see an over sensitive society that is scared to admit that we have significant social challenges which must be addressed. He also produced a T/S that said *&%$ Cancer. So I asked him the question, is it not controversial or even in your face to use this to describe how you beat cancer? His response was when you go through the cancer process and beat IT,…

    • Dave Harris

      @Critical Cynic
      I find it strange that you expect everyone to be proficient in English especially if its their second or third language. I wonder if you are fluent in ANY African language, let alone decipher the nuances of another language.

      Tofolux’s basic message is quite correct; that FNB needs to decide whether it wants to be a bank or a political party. FNB’s “apology” answers the question, but they have a lot more to answer for.

    • ntozakhona


      Often times it is wise to keep your peace when you have nothing to say. I have been reading Toffolux posts for over a year and at no stage did she ever call for the exodus of whites.

    • ntozakhona

      Critical cynic

      ” I find it very said you lack this clarity of comprehension” What twaddle especially from someone claiming to know the English language. What is clarity of comprehension? There should be a ‘that’ between said and you.

      I am probabably correct in assuming English is Toffolux’ seventh language yet she can freely engage in the language to an extent that the only grammatic fault you are able to find is a mispelt soberly – which is in any case a typo.

      How many languages have you been able to learn, and please I am not asking for a display of your mastery of swear words and uncouth language! Though I can bet that my English is far better than yours and if I were to resort to thick academic phraseology you would be lost I must emphasize that English is not a measure of intelligence and erudition.

    • ntozakhona

      corrigenda – probably

    • Mr. Direct

      Thought Leader: where spelling and grammatical errors are discussed at great length.

    • http://http// Paul Whelan

      If you’re interested in another point of view on the subject:

    • george

      At Critical cynic. “you was” ( paragraph 3 )
      What is this?

    • -Sterling Ferguson

      @Mr Direct, the bank was right, the ANC has lowered the passing score in school to thirty and how can these students compete on the world stage? The world bank has released a report that Africa produces 0.05 of one percent of the world goods and if there is nothing done to change this, Africa will be forever poor. The leaders of the ANC don’t have a clue what direction to go to jump start the economy in SA. The Asians with no natural resources have broken the sound barrier passing Africa in development.

      Instead of these people debate what the head of FNB was saying, people like Harris and Toufoulx are saying that this person, has no right to question the government.