Malema out in the cold over nationalisation

Nicky Newton-King, the JSE CEO, and Julius Malema. Image Black Opinion

A motion calling for the nationalisation of South Africa’s banks has been proposed by Economic Freedom Fighters’ leader Julius Malema in the national assembly. It has been roundly rejected.

Malema proposed the motion calling for a Banks Ownership Act to be passed by parliament. This would nationalise commercial banks in South Africa “without compensation”. Malema argued that the banks owned land and huge commercial properties. They “control and run the lives of so many”.

Suggesting the Chinese were a role-model, he said that state owned 20 banks. A state-owned bank in South Africa would be run by qualified professional “deployees of political parties”, said Malema. This sort of ownership model would ensure that banks “are democratised”, he argued.

Referring to the Banks Ownership Act, Malema said parliament could stipulate that the state would own 51 percent of banks. The rest would be owned by pension funds, co-operatives and private individuals.

Business Day reported that Malema had called for the listing of state-owned companies on the JSE. This would help stablise them “and boost their profitability”. The success of Telkom was an example of why listing should be considered, he argued.

The African National Congress, the official opposition Democratic Alliance, Agang, the Inkatha Freedom Party, the African Christian Democratic Party, the Freedom Front Plus all opposed the motion.

The Times reported that Malema struck a lonely figure as his call for nationalisation was “torn to shreds by (other) political parties”, as the newspaper put it.

ANC MP Adrian Williams said the implications of nationalisation would be “quite expensive”. While some people were left with a warm “and toasty” feeling when there was talk about nationalisation of banks, the implications of this would be that ordinary South Africans would have to pay back bank debts. “It is a cut and paste populist ideology that was invented by the EFF in 2013.”

DA MP David Maynier, the official opposition’s finance spokesman, said it was “not just a bad idea, it was a mad idea”. It would crush the hopes of the 9.4 million people who do not have jobs – and had given up looking for employment.

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi did not take kindly to the EFF motion being described as “mad”. He objected strongly to a “white” Member of Parliament – Maynier – describing it in this way. “It is condescending to be called mad by a white man.”

“Say it doesn’t make sense, don’t say people are mad,” said Ndlozi.

ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe said nationalisation would lead to even more state capture. It would be “disastrous for the economy”.

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