The latest attempt to speak to the media by the controversial Chris Malikane, adviser to Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, was put on the back burner after he cancelled his planned attendance of an ANC panel discussion about the call to nationalise the South African Reserve Bank.
In what appeared to be a defiance of Gigaba’s announcement last month that he would rein in his outspoken adviser – who has openly advocated for the nationalisation of the bank – a local ANC branch in Honeydew announced that Malikane would be speaking about the topic again.
But the highly publicised panel discussion, which Malikane was set to chair, began an hour late with an announcement that he would not be attending due to an instruction by Gigaba to no longer speak to the media. The event continued with panellists unpacking their views on radical economic transformation, the land question and the reserve bank.
Nthathi Nthathi, banking lecturer at the Wits Business School, questioned the credibility of a privately owned reserve bank as opposed to what some in the ANC purport to be the safer alternative – a “nationalised” reserve bank.
Nthathi said that allowing the bank to be controlled by private shareholders, whom he suspects are largely “the banks”, created a conflict of interest in the bank’s duty to regulate the banking sector and monitory policy.
“No one has ever been able to make the point of why the Reserve Bank should have private shareholders. “How does that strengthen the Reserve Bank? What do the shareholders add to the Reserve Bank?” he asked.
But president of the Progressive Professionals’ Forum Mzwandile Manyi argued that the Constitution, as it stood, allowed for independence for the Reserve Bank.
“I think it is a misnomer to have a private company in the Constitution,” he said. “We have a public protector that is independent.
“We have a few Chapter 9 institutions that are independent, why can’t the Reserve Bank be one of those?”