It is hard to know why Sipho Pityana so desperately wanted to be chair of Absa, or what he aims to achieve by taking the banking regulator, and the bank itself, to court because someone else got the job. But when the lead independent director of SA’s third-largest bank takes the banking regulator to court, it can’t be good for the bank, or the sector, or indeed for SA.

Banks are different. That is why the process by which their directors and key executives are appointed is different from that of most companies, requiring the approval of the banking regulator. They are the custodians of other people’s money — our money. And the regulator is the custodian of the banking system itself, whose stability and soundness is crucial to the economy’s ability to function...

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