Proc­tec­tor won’t de­fend Sarb case

The Star Early Edition - - COMPANIES - Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Ti­isetso Mot­se­neng

THE PUB­LIC Pro­tec­tor would not op­pose a court chal­lenge against her bind­ing pro­posal call­ing for a change to the man­date of the SA Re­serve Bank (Sarb), her of­fice said yes­ter­day.

Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane rec­om­mended last month that the cen­tral bank’s man­date of main­tain­ing price and cur­rency sta­bil­ity be changed to fo­cus on eco­nomic growth. That set off a po­lit­i­cal row that has hit the rand and gov­ern­ment bonds and prompted court chal­lenges from Sarb gov­er­nor Le­setja Kganyago, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba and Speaker of Par­lia­ment Baleka Mbete. They ar­gue that Mkhwe­bane had gone be­yond the scope of her man­date.

The Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor’s spokesper­son, Cleopa­tra Mosana, said on Thurs­day that Mkhwe­bane had filed a no­tice op­pos­ing the chal­lenges to her rec­om­men­da­tion. Mkhwe­bane said she was em­pow­ered by the Con­sti­tu­tion to in­ter­vene in such af­fairs.

Le­gal ad­vice

Yes­ter­day, how­ever, her of­fice said Mkhwe­bane would no longer be putting up a de­fence of her rec­om­men­da­tion in court.

“Hav­ing con­sid­ered the le­gal ad­vice from the Se­nior Coun­sel, which ad­vice she ac­cepted, the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor, Ad­vo­cate Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane, has de­cided not to op­pose the Sarb’s review ap­pli­ca­tion,” Mkhwe­bane’s of­fice said. The rand was un­moved by the news. An­a­lysts say it is un­clear what prompted Mkhwe­bane’s rec­om­men­da­tion.

It will now be up to the courts to de­cide whether her man­date ex­tends to the cen­tral bank. The ANC has stated that it is op­posed to al­ter­ing the man­date of the cen­tral bank.

But its ally, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, has backed calls for changes, say­ing the bank is not act­ing in the in­ter­ests of the coun­try’s poor ma­jor­ity.

Mkhwe­bane made the pro­posal to change the bank’s man­date when she de­liv­ered her find­ings on an apartheid-era bailout of Bankorp, which was sub­se­quently bought by Absa, now a unit of Bar­clays Africa Group.

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