A South African opposition party put forward an amendment to the law governing the central bank that would make the institution state-owned and see its directors appointed by the finance minister rather than shareholders.
Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema introduced the South African Reserve Bank Amendment Bill Thursday, parliament said on its Twitter account.
South Africa’s central bank is one of the few in the world that’s still owned by private shareholders. At a December conference, the ruling African National Congress ratified a proposal for the state to own the bank, which has been in investors’ hands since its founding in 1921. The EFF’s move on the central bank follows its February motion to change the constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation, another plan the governing party proposed in December.
The land issue has gained political traction, because it’s among the biggest symbols of inequality in the nation of about 56 million where wealth and poverty are largely divided along racial lines.
The parties will contest national elections next year in the first ballot since the opposition won control of several key municipalities, including the biggest and richest city, Johannesburg, and the capital, Pretoria, in 2016.
The shareholders vote to appoint seven of the central bank’s 10 non-executive directors and have no say over policy. Governor Lesetja Kganyago says nationalization would be a protracted and expensive process and stresses that independence is needed to retain control over monetary policy.