Reserve Bank still a target of party faction, declaration shows
The ANC has moved swiftly to indicate that its election promise on the SA Reserve Bank is innocuous.
However, it is clear the faction aligned to former president Jacob Zuma continues to have its sights set on the central bank.
The left — the SA Communist Party and the Congress of SA Trade Unions — has also been agitating for a more flexible mandate for the Bank.
The ANC remains a broad church, but to effect the kind of economic turnaround it outlines in its manifesto, it cannot continue to tug at opposing forces.
The presence of the Bank promise in the manifesto was a nod to the Zuma faction and was probably included to breathe life into the ANC’s “unity” mantra, which President Cyril Ramaphosa and other leaders pushed in the lead-up to this weekend’s manifesto launch.
What is clear is that the ANC’s unity project spells policy uncertainty on steroids.
The manifesto says: “The ANC believes that the SA Reserve Bank must pursue a flexible monetary policy regime, aligned with the objectives of the second phase of transition. Without sacrificing price stability, monetary policy must take into account other objectives such as employment creation and economic growth.”
In September, after the Bank decided to keep the repo rate unchanged, an ANC communicator was chastised for releasing a statement in which she “implored” the monetary policy committee (MPC) members to “prioritise the plight of poor South Africans”.
The statement suggested the ANC was attempting to influence the Bank’s decision — a violation of its independence as enshrined in the constitution.
It also followed the party’s conference resolution to nationalise the Bank and was reminiscent of the views of public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who recommended the mandate of the Bank be tampered with — a finding that was set aside by the courts. The ANC quickly retracted the September statement and vowed that it was committed to the independence of the central bank.
The debate on the nationalisation of the Bank revealed that members arguing in favour of it appeared not to have recognised that the ownership of the Bank does not affect its mandate.
ANC KwaZulu-Natal leader Sihle Zikalala at the time told Business Day that the Bank’s mandate had to be reviewed, with his province advocating its nationalisation.
THE BANK WOULD BE NATIONALISED EVEN IF SOME MEMBERS OF THE PARTY’S NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE DISAGREED
On Sunday, ANC secretarygeneral Ace Magashule, in an interview with eNCA, fluttered between the mandate of the Bank and its nationalisation, saying the Bank would be nationalised even if some members of the party’s national executive committee disagreed.
In the 10 years of the Zuma administration, when ANC resolutions were implemented only if they were beneficial to the president, his friends the Guptas and his family, it is strange that his close ally, Magashule, never spoke out against his failure to implement conference decisions. It is now politically expedient and beneficial to his faction, as he made it clear that he believed this grouping would regain control of the party in five years’ time: “It is just a matter of five years, comrade. The [elective] conference happens every five years, so let’s work hard.”
This, of course, is only once Ramaphosa helps the ANC to regain electoral support, which has been on the decline since 2009.
Who can forget how Zuma himself intervened at the Mangaung elective conference to ensure the National Development Plan was adopted as ANC policy, but forgot about it almost immediately after the resolution was taken?
In fact, the wording of the clause on the Bank in the latest manifesto comes directly from a Mangaung resolution, which was reaffirmed at the Nasrec conference in 2017. The inclusion then of a seemingly harmless paragraph in its manifesto is not as innocuous as senior ANC leaders would like us to believe.
As analysts have indicated, it is strange for an independent institution’s mandate to be aligned with the “second phase of the transition ”— the strategic posture of a political party.
It also indicates that Ramaphosa’s hands will be partially tied in effecting reforms for SA.
The ANC, once again, is its own greatest opposition.
Deliberate clause: The treatment of the SA Reserve Bank in the ANC’s election manifesto has analysts talking.