Cape Town - Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth said on Wednesday in an exclusive interview with TechCentral that he misses living in South Africa, but that exchange controls put entrepreneurs at a significant disadvantage compared with their counterparts in Western economies.
"This is particularly acute in the technology sector, but the inefficiencies of exchange controls present real costs to all residents, including the weakest and most vulnerable parts of society," he said.
On TechCentral's question on whether he is fighting the case to move back to South Africa or out of principle, Shuttle said nobody else should have to make the same choice: stay in South Africa
and limit the scope of your entrepreneurship to South Africa, or move
away and be able to build modern, connected operations.
"Not only is it
something I would argue is a right for that individual, I would argue
it’s in the interests of the country to allow global thinkers to stay
Shuttleworth is taking the South African government to court in a bid to declare its exchange control system as unconstitutional. He blamed the existing system of exchange control in South Africa for forcing him to emigrate in 2001.
Shuttleworth said after raising his concerns, the South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) moved to remove exchange controls for emigrants and asked him to quash his case.
However, he said his case seeks to ensure that South Africans can stay residents in the country and retain freedom of investment globally.
"It is a great loss for South Africa to encourage people to emigrate rather than allowing them to build global operations from small beginnings at home," he told TechCentral.
Apart from his constitutional challenge to the exchange control system, Shuttleworth wants the court to set aside the levy of more than R250m he had to pay to get some of his assets out of the country in 2009, and to order the Sarb to return the money.
He further seeks an order declaring that the Sarb's so-called closed door policy of insisting that members of the public communicate with it through the intermediation of authorised banks is unconstitutional and invalid.
Any proceeds from the case will go towards future constitutional defence actions, said Shuttleworth.
He added that he is prepared to take his fight to the supreme court of appeal and the constitutional court.
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