Equity Group Holdings’ DRC business faces a backlash from a section of citizens of the country over controversial comments made by Deputy President William Ruto.
Ruto has been the subject of protests from a section of DRC residents including top diplomats and social media personalities for comments they deemed offensive and demeaning to their country.
Speaking in Kiswahili at a campaign event, Ruto was calling for Kenya to look to explore new markets for livestock and dairy products – and referenced the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) stating that “a country of 90 million doesn’t have a single cow”.
He further made reference to DRC as “where the singers are…the likes of Kanda Bongoman”.
A clip of the speech quickly went viral. The comments sparked outrage among a section of Congolese, particularly online. Some have called for a boycott of Equity BCDC until Kenya issues an official apology for Ruto’s comments.
Equity has been banking on DRC to overtake Kenya as its largest market. In addition to various investments, the bank has sought to spur Kenya-DRC trade by facilitating trade missions involving businesses and leaders from the two countries.
Mwangi has repeatedly highlighted the strong performance of the DRC business since its inception, describing it as “a juggler pipe that will change this (Equity) Group forever”.
The Equity Banque Commercial du Congo (Equity BCDC) brand identity was unveiled in February 2021 following the successful merger of Equity Bank Congo (EBC) and Banque Commerciale du Congo (BCDC).
Other Kenyan brands including national carrier Kenya Airways also found themselves on the receiving end of the backlash from Congolese citizens who called for their compatriots to boycott Kenyan products. Equity, however, bore the brunt of the outrage owing to its recognizability and major presence in the country.
Jacques Sebisaho, a Doctor, tweeted in French: “We have notified all our colleagues who have an account at Equity Bank that we will not do any more transactions with this bank until the DRC receives an apology from the Kenyan govt.”
Congolese Ambassador Francine Muyumba also referenced Equity Bank’s DRC operations as she slammed Ruto. She tweeted: “Mr. Vice Preisident @WilliamsRuto, this is really unacceptable, with all due respect there is a need to withdraw this statement. If #DRC did not have a single cow how could #KENYA sign economic deals with #DRC, @EquityBCDC is currently making money in Congo, this an insult.”
One Litsani Choukran wrote: “Dear @WilliamsRuto, once elected president, and we really hope that happens, come and take back your @EquityBCDC – we have nothing to offer to your rich country and especially that bank does not offer either good quality service in the DRC.
By A proud Ndombolo dancer.”