On 10 February 2017, the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) marched to ABSA Bank’s headquarters in Johannesburg to handover a memorandum to demand ABSA ‘pay back the money’ that was allegedly received from the apartheid government. Thousands of ANCYL members, including some members of Black First Land First (BLF) were in the streets of Johannesburg chanting struggle songs with placards written ‘#BoycottABSA’, as they headed to the ABSA offices. The march started at Beyers Naude Square and headed down Troye Street where the ABSA offices are. On their arrival at ABSA, protestors found heavy security and police blocking the entrance.
This came after the leaked report from the Public Protector alleging ABSA benefited from apartheid era bailouts. The investigation centred on claims that the Mbeki administration had improperly failed to recover billions of Rands in interest from an apartheid-era bailout given to Bankcorp, which then became ABSA Bank. ABSA claims the report contains several factual and legal inaccuracies and plans to challenge its findings.
The ANCYL stated in their memorandum that ABSA has 21 days to refund R2.2 billion. ANCYL continued, adding that if ABSA does not respond within 21 days they will occupy all the ABSA branches in South Africa and shut them down. The Youth League demanded that government stop doing business with ABSA. Youth League Gauteng Secretary Bones Modise said that this money that ABSA must repay can be used for free education.
ABSA officials accepted the memorandum of demands from the ANCYL and said that they would respond to their demands as soon as possible.