EFF leader Julius Malema Photo: INLSA

Cape Town - A debate over the nationalisation of banks descended into accusations of racism, as the DA’s Alf Lees was attacked over his “racist” comments that he paint his face black to benefit from government’s black empowerment deals.

But Lees’s comments on painting his face black drew the hackles from EFF MPs, forcing him to withdraw his comment.

Lees said it was not a bad idea to nationalise banks but it was a “mad idea”, echoing several DA speakers

Earlier, EFF leader Julius Malema who had brought the motion in the National Assembly to debate the nationalisation of banks said it was one of the cardinal pillars of his party.

“The cardinal pillars of the EFF are non-negotiable and constitute the true future of South Africa. We make this call fully aware that the financial services sector is currently the biggest sector in the South African economy.

“That South Africa’s financial sector controls about R12 trillion worth of assets, which is four times the country’s GDP, contributes about 21.6% of the country’s GDP and over 15% of corporate income tax per annum,” said Malema.

He argued that “despite running our lives”, banks had refused to transform, and no South African bank had meaningful ownership by the black majority.

Malema has proposed a “Banks Ownership Act” which will stipulate that all banks are have at least 51% state ownership.

“The remaining shares will be owned by institutions like pension funds, co-operatives and private individuals with a guarantee that no single individual or investor will own more than 10% in a single bank,” argued Malema.

But the ANC’s Adrian Williams said MPs had to engage in the question of nationalisation in a “calm and thoughtful” manner.

“The implications of nationalising the banks without compensation are quite extensive, there are good and bad implications, and this house needs to find the best possible way forward to put the interest of the South African people first,” said Williams.

While some had a “warm and toasty feeling” about the nationalisation of banks, Williams said this was subjective and not supported by facts.
He said there would be consequences for South Africa should it nationalise banks, with a third of the money in local banks borrowed from overseas.

“South Africa doesn’t exist in a vacuum, when it comes to international finance we are just a cog in the capitalist wheel. The question that should really be asked is: Has capitalism failed the South African people?”.

The DA’s David Maynier said the nationalisation of nationalisation of banks would crush the hopes of South Africa’s 9.4 million unemployed.

“The EFF, who like their hero (former Venezuelan leader) Hugo Chavez wants to nationalise the banks without compensation which means seizing ownership of 16 domestic banks, 15 foreign banks, three mutual banks and two co-operative banks, and seizing the assets of banks whose loans and advances total R3.7 trillion and whose assets totalled R4.9 trillion in 2016/17,” said Maynier.

Political Bureau