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Chris Ball

The Order of the Baobab in

Chris Ball Awarded for:
His excellent contribution to the struggle for liberation through his skills in financial mastery. He used his influence to ensure that international big business impose sanctions against the apartheid government.
Profile of Chris Ball

Christopher John Watkins Ball was born on 2 November 1939 in Johannesburg. He is one of the most distinguished bankers with a banking career spanning over 40 years. Ball started in banking in 1968. In 1985 he initiated Barclays’ participation in the historic negotiations in Zambia between the South Africa corporate and the African National Congress (ANC) delegation that consisted of Mac Maharaj, Pallo Jordan, Thabo Mbeki and Chris Hani and that was led by OR Tambo.

He created the consultative business movement, which initiated dialogue between the business sector and the United Democratic Front (UDF) and subsequently facilitated the constitutional negotiations from 1990 to 1993.

Shortly thereafter Barclays granted loans to a pro-ANC funder whose advertisements called for the unbanning of the ANC and the release of Nelson Mandela. Some saw the granting of the loan by Ball as tantamount to sabotage.

In 1987, PW Botha who was then the President of South Africa launched a judicial probe into the conduct of Ball in his capacity as Managing Director of First National Bank (FNB) for what he termed “anti-apartheid activities.” Ball was forced to resign from Barclays and left the country in 1989. He engaged actively with United States and United Kingdom administrators between 1984 and 1987 to encourage them to drop their historic position on the ANC and to communicate with its leadership.

Along with other large multination corporations, Barclays subsequently withdrew from South Africa in support of anti-apartheid sanctions. In 1995, Ball became a founding trustee of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund; from 1995 to 1997 he was the acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Olympic Bid Committee; he served as the CEO of the FNB group; he has been a senior independent non-executive Director of Nedbank Limited and Nedbank Group Ltd and he has availed his invaluable skills to many other financial institutions that are strengthening the economy of the country.