Chris Hart quits Standard Bank following suspension over ‘racist’ tweet

From Chris Hart

I have elected to resign from Standard Bank in the wake of an unfortunate social media event at the start of the year. Although I have not been found guilty of any wrongdoing after extensive consultation, it is my preference to pursue alternative opportunities.

Chris Hart, former Standard Bank economist
Chris Hart former investment strategist at Standard Bank

One of these opportunities includes the establishment of an impact investment fund aimed at job creation, while at the same time providing enhanced returns at lower risk for investors.

Another opportunity is in consulting and speaking where some of the challenges facing the South African economy and business community can be fully studied and analysed. I remain convinced that South Africa remains a high potential country if its socio-economic challenges are successfully addressed through appropriate public policy.

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In addition, I hope to work with CPG and their South Africa Day project, which is aimed at nation building through grassroots community building and upliftment.

I strongly believe that a key cause of socio-economic problems is massive unemployment, and that job creation should be at the pinnacle of policy formulation.

South Africa’s challenges are not insurmountable as long as our Constitution remains intact with the rights and freedoms embodied in it for the protection and benefit of all South Africans.

I deeply regret any offence or harm I may have caused in any comment I made on social media. My intention was never to do so. My thanks to those who know me well and who supported me throughout.

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Standard Bank Economist Hart Quits After Twitter Suspension

by Antony Sguazzin and Renee Bonorchis

Chris Hart, an investment strategist at Standard Bank Group Ltd., resigned after his suspension in January following comments on Twitter.

Hart said the victims of apartheid are “increasing along with a sense of entitlement and hatred towards minorities.” The statement caused a backlash on Twitter from people calling him a racist and urging clients of Johannesburg-based Standard Bank to boycott the lender. Standard Bank announced his resignation in an e-mailed statement on Monday without commenting further.

Hart later apologized in a Twitter post, saying that he didn’t intend to cause offense and that his comments were meant to be read in the context of a slowing economy. The strategist’s comments were “factually incorrect, make inappropriate assumptions about South Africa and have racist undertones” Standard Bank said at the time.

Read also: Trevor Jennings: SA – a light for the world. Let’s start the conversation.

“I voluntarily resigned,” Hart said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday. “Although I have not been found guilty of any wrongdoing, after extensive consultation, it is my preference to pursue alternative opportunities.”

A week after Hart’s suspension in January Sim Tshabalala, Standard Bank’s joint chief executive officer, sent a message to staff and said persistent racial inequality and racism were a risk to South Africa’s stability and its economic growth.

While South Africa’s black middle class has grown since the end of apartheid in 1994, black people on average still earn six times less than their white counterparts, according to the statistics agency. Government policies to promote black people in Africa’s second-biggest economy have mostly helped a small group join the elite in one of the world’s most unequal countries.

Opportunities Hart may pursue include the establishment of an investment fund aimed at job creation, consulting and speaking engagements, as well as working with the lobby group Citizens in Partnership with Government, of which he is a founding member, he said.