Protector considers legal challenge to SARB’s rejection of recommendations
PUBLIC Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is contemplating mounting a legal challenge to the application by the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) on her recommendations to curtail its powers.
Mkhwebane’s spokesperson Cleo Mosana said yesterday the public protector would meet with her legal team to consider her options.
She has also noted the intention by Absa to join the SARB’s application in the high court in Pretoria.
SARB governor Lesetja Kganyago lodged papers this week and accused the public protector of trying to undermine the role and functions of the Reserve Bank.
He said Mkhwebane did not have the powers to order Parliament to amend the constitution.
Mosana said Mkhwebane would decide “in due course” on the SARB’s court application. “The public protector has perused the application and will meet with the legal team and decide whether to oppose or not,” said Mosana.
“The basis or the grounds of the public protector’s opposition of the judicial review application, if the public protector decides to oppose, will be contained in the answering affidavit, which will be filed in court soon,” she said.
Mkhwebane was strongly criticised across parties in Parliament and civil society for her bid to clip the wings of the SARB.
The ANC said she did not have powers to order Parliament to change the mandate of the central bank.
Parliament also said last Friday that it would lodge court action against Mkhwebane to set aside her findings.
The institution said the public protector did not have powers to instruct the chairperson of the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services, Mathole Motshekga, to initiate a process of amending the constitution.
Absa has also expressed an intention to lodge a court application against Mkhwebane’s report.
A constitutional amendment would require support of two-thirds of MPs in the National Assembly.
But most of the parties have rejected her findings and said she did not have the authority to tell Parliament what to do.
They said Parliament derived its mandate from the constitution, and that could not be taken away by Mkhwebane.
Parliament said what Mkhwebane was doing was trying to usurp the powers of the institution.
In his application in court, Kganyago said Mkhwebane’s findings had financial implications, with the rand taking a knock against major currencies. The shares of banks were also affected.
The ratings agencies have already warned that any interference with the independence of the SARB would cause further credit rating downgrades.
South Africa was downgraded in April by Fitch and Standard & Poor’s, and this was followed recently by another downgrade by Moody’s.
DIGGING IN: Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane