Sarb in further broadside at Public Protector
THE SA RESERVE Bank (Sarb) yesterday piled more pressure on Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in a fresh affidavit opposing her remedial action contained in the Ciex report as the central bank moves to bring certainty on its mandate.
In its second set of court papers deposed with the High Court, Sarb’s general counsel in its legal services unit, Johannes Jurgen De Jager, said yesterday that it was not enough that Mkhwebane had not opposed the bank’s initial application to overturn her findings that the mandate of the bank must be changed.
On Tuesday, the North Gauteng High Court reserved judgment on Sarb’s initial application to set aside Mkhwebane’s remedial action on the mandate of the bank.
The Reserve Bank, in its latest court challenge to the Public Protector’s remedial action, wants the court to also declare that she was wrong when she ordered the Special Investigative unit to recover the R1.12 billion funds used for the Bankcorp bailout.
“The information provided by the Reserve Bank to the Public Protector demonstrates that the financial assistance was repaid. Not withstanding this and the interview With Dr Stals on December 8, 2016, where the Public Protector indicated that if the Reserve Bank could demonstrate that the financial assistance was repaid then that would be the end of the investigations, the Public Protector proceeded to find that an amount was owing by Absa,” De Jager said in court papers.
The latest court action against the now infamous public protector into the bailout rendered by the Reserve Bank to Bankcorp comes in a week where the central heads had taken to public platforms to ensure the country that the bank’s independence would emerge.
Sarb’s governor Lesetja Kganyago said Mkhwebane’s report had also raised the ire of the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), which viewed Sarb as a “beacon” of independence. BIS is a global financial institution owned by central banks. The report had created uncertainty around the independence of Sarb.
The rand tanked earlier this week when ratings agency Moody’s said that while the central bank’s decision last month to cut interest rates for the first time in five years would boost economic growth, it also saw the decision as a signal of growing political pressure on the bank.
Cleopatra Mosana, the spokesperson for the Public Protector, said she will be opposing the matter.
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane faces further court action.