Exchange controls, now known as financial surveillance, have been a pivotal component of South Africa’s economic policy for 81 years. Initially introduced during World War 2, these controls aimed to manage and preserve the country’s scarce foreign exchange reserves, ensuring they were used to benefit the economy. Despite being controversial at times, they have played a crucial role in stabilising the economy during periods of political and economic uncertainty.

Infancy (1939-1950s): Exchange controls began as emergency finance regulations in 1939, requested by the UK to restrict fund outflows to non-sterling area countries. After the war, these controls expanded to include sterling area countries. Up until the late 1950s, these controls were relatively inconsequential but started tightening as economic conditions demanded stricter regulations...

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