South Africa’s ruling party has ratified a proposal for the state rather than private shareholders to own the central bank.
Delegates at the African National Congress’s elective conference in Johannesburg decided that the government should own 100 percent of the Reserve Bank, Enoch Godongwana, the head of the party’s economic transformation committee, told reporters in Johannesburg on Wednesday. The conference didn’t discuss changes to the central bank’s mandate, he said.
The Reserve Bank’s investors have no say over its policy or the appointment of the governor, but do vote to select seven of the 10 non-executive directors. It’s one of a small coterie of global counterparts from Japan to Switzerland that has private shareholders, a legacy of its foundation in 1921.
The proposal, made at the party’s policy conference in July, came two weeks after the nation’s anti-graft ombudsman said the Reserve Bank’s inflation-targeting mandate should be changed. While the High Court has set aside that suggestion, the ANC proceeded with the plan to change the regulator’s ownership structure.
The ANC now will have to ask parliament to change the South African Reserve Bank Act. The party holds more than 60 percent of the seats in the legislature.
After fighting the anti-graft ombudsman’s mandate-change proposal, Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago said the central bank would only oppose ownership changes if its independence is threatened.
The Reserve Bank has 2 million issued shares that are bought and sold on an over-the-counter trading and transfer facility after it delisted from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 2002. In the six months through Dec. 19, the central bank’s stock traded for a little as 3 rand ($0.23) and as much as 12 rand, the lender said on its website.
There is no set timeline for the nationalization of the central bank, Godongwana said.
“We said we would buy it when we have money without benefiting the speculators,” he said.