April 29, 2014

Chris Watkins-Ball awarded the Order of the Baobab

Chris Watkins-Ball, a leading banking figure in South Africa and Director of afb, has been awarded the Order of the Baobab (Silver) by the President of South Africa.

Mr. Watkins-Ball has been honoured with this award because of his contribution to the anti-apartheid struggle for liberation. Through both public speeches in South Africa and meetings with the ANC in exile, he was instrumental in getting businesses and international governments to see that apartheid was as counterproductive in economic terms as it was evil in moral terms. He founded the Consultative Business Movement which initiated and developed dialogue between the business sector and the United Democratic front, the affiliate of the ANC within South Africa. Having become an embarrassment to the then President, PW Botha, his name was placed on the infamous “Vlakplas” list and he had regular threats on his life.

Speaking after receiving the award, Mr. Watkins-Ball expressed his gratitude, saying that it was indeed a recognition for all South Africans who played a critical role during the anti-apartheid struggle that culminated in the country gaining independence in 1994.

“I am honoured to have received such a prestigious award in recognition of the small role that I played in the struggle,”

added Watkins-Ball.

During his three years on the board of afb, he has been able to offer his wealth of experience in leadership, strategy, finance and banking, and has helped to build the business into the leading financial technology company on the continent.

A lawyer and economist, Mr. Watkins-Ball has extensive experience in financial services in South Africa, the United Kingdom, Europe and America. He was a general manager of Barclays Bank in the United Kingdom, and Group CEO of First National Bank in South Africa, and until recently was Senior Independent Director of Nedbank.

He has been President of the Institute of Bankers in South Africa and a member of the advisory board of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. He also has wide industrial experience and was CEO of Cape Town’s bid for the 2004 Olympic Games.