SARB ques­tions Public Pro­tec­tor’s in­de­pen­dence

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IN A NEW af­fi­davit filed in the High Court in Pre­to­ria, Public Pro­tec­tor Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane is ac­cused of be­ing bi­ased and un­der­min­ing the in­de­pen­dence of the South African Re­serve Bank (SARB), it emerged yes­ter­day.

The af­fi­davit by le­gal coun­sel for the SARB, high­lights Mkhwe­bane’s meet­ings with Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s le­gal ad­vis­ers and the State Se­cu­rity Agency just weeks be­fore her final re­port on her probe into the Re­serve Bank’s 1985 bailout of Bankorp, now Absa bank, was re­leased.

The af­fi­davit points to pos­si­ble col­lu­sion.

The af­fi­davit de­scribes the meet­ing with the pres­i­dency’s le­gal team as “highly ir­reg­u­lar”.

“The meet­ing tra­versed the Public Pro­tec­tor’s pro­posed re­me­dial ac­tion to amend the con­sti­tu­tion to de­prive the Re­serve Bank of its role in pro­tect­ing the value of the cur­rency.

“This is an as­pect of the re­me­dial ac­tion that had noth­ing to do with the Pres­i­dency. There is no le­git­i­mate ba­sis on which this ought to have been dis­cussed with the Pres­i­dency,” the af­fi­davit stated.

The SARB con­tends that Mkhwe­bane al­tered “sub­stan­tially her re­me­dial ac­tion” in her pre­lim­i­nary re­port with­out al­low­ing right of re­ply to the Re­serve Bank and oth­ers.

“The Public Pro­tec­tor did not pro­vide this op­por­tu­nity to any­one other than the Pres­i­dency.”

In the af­fi­davit, the SARB took strong ex­cep­tion to the bank’s man­date be­ing dis­cussed with the Pres­i­dency as she is con­sti­tu­tion­ally obliged to con­duct her probes in­de­pen­dently and with­out bias.

“Dis­cussing these as­pects of the re­port with the Pres­i­dency de­stroys that in­de­pen­dence.”

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