Ramaphosa says the ANC recognises the desire to see the Sarb publicly owned will come at a cost that is simply not prudent right now.
After a week of very public infighting among ANC members following statements made by the party’s secretary-general Ace Magashule in a post-lekgotla briefing on Tuesday about the party’s plans for the South African Reserve Bank (Sarb), President Cyril Ramaphosa has commented on the matter in his capacity as ANC president.
“The officials viewed the recent public spats about the mandate of the SA Reserve Bank as not being helpful, and mitigating and undermining the confidence of citizens and of investors,” said Ramaphosa in an ANC statement.
Ramaphosa said “it is our desire for the South African Reserve Bank to be publicly owned. However, we recognise that this will come at a cost, which given our current economic and fiscal position, is simply not prudent.”
This was in response to Magashule’s assertion that the ruling party wanted the mandate of the bank to be expanded to focus on development and job creation.
Magashule’s comments sparked debates on social media, led by former Reserve Bank governor turned Finance Minister Tito Mboweni who even resorted to Facebook due to Twitter’s character limit in an effort to get his point across.
“Government sets the mandate for the SARB. There is no quantitative easing thing here. The primary mandate of the SA Reserve Bank is to ‘protect the value of the currency in the interest of balanced economic growth and development,’” tweeted Mboweni before heading over to Facebook to expand on his position.
Mboweni’s sentiments were echoed by the ANC’s economic transformation head, Enoch Godongwana, who said a national executive committee lekgotla was not a decision-making body.
Speaking to radio host Stephen Grootes on SAFM on Wednesday, Godongwana said Magashule’s statement was inaccurate.
“We’ve been debating this issue about the mandate of the reserve bank for a while. From the National General Council in 2015 to Nasrec in 2017 and we closed that debate. So no other structure can take such a decision and overrule the decision of conference,” said Godongwana.
He also remarked that there was an obsession with the SARB within the ANC because this was not the first time a discussion on the body caused so much discord.
In a follow-up interview with the station’s Krivani Pillay, ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe explained that the Lekgotla was merely a platform of conversations held by the ANC with its various stakeholders and that Tuesday’s media briefing was used to communicate the outcome of those conversations.
According to Mabe, the resolutions that were outlined should not be confused with policy objectives.
“There is nothing untoward said by the lekgotla which will change the way the SARB operates as things stand now,” said Mabe.