For an institution that thrives on being opaque and inscrutable while quietly executing its oversight role, the South African Reserve Bank’s recent period under the spotlight has been most unusual. First it was subject to an abandoned ANC parliamentary motion aimed at debating its nationalisation, which stemmed from the party’s December conference. The issue is the current ownership structure of the bank, which enables individuals — including foreigners — to own shares. For reasons yet to be ventilated by the ANC, it seems that the prevailing sentiment is that the mere presence of individual shareholders is politically undesirable. This appears to be because shareholders are able to appoint a minority of the Bank’s board members. While no single ownership model prevails across the world, there is no doubt that all credible governments exercise full control over their central banks. In the South African case — despite individual shareholders — the core functions of the Bank remain su...

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