Standard Bank Economist Hart Quits After Twitter Suspension

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.

“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.

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