South Africa’s ANC Rejects Ombudsman’s Call to Change Constitution

  • Public Protector wants central bank’s mandate to be changed
  • Ombudsman’s recommendation is unlawful: ANC spokesman Kodwa

South Africa's Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane speaks during a press briefing on June 19, in Pretoria, South Africa.

Photographer: Phill Magakoe/AFP via Getty Images

South Africa’s ruling party accused the nation’s graft ombudsman of overstepping her powers after she called on parliament to amend the constitution to change the mandate of the central bank.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane recommended in a report on Monday that parliament start a process to change the constitution to make the central bank focus on the “socioeconomic well-being of the citizens” rather than protecting the value of the currency to contain inflation. Her comments knocked the rand as the change was seen by investors as a threat to the independence of the Reserve Bank.

“We find that quite unlawful of the Public Protector, that you can make such a recommendation for an amendment of the constitution,” Zizi Kodwa, a spokesman for the African National Congress, said in an interview with Johannesburg-based broadcaster eNCA on Tuesday.

The bank has said it plans to approach the nation’s courts to review Mkhwebane’s directive and set it aside. The argument that protecting the buying power of the rand is “anti-development” is misplaced, Governor Lesetja Kganyago said in a speech on Monday.

ANC Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte said the party will discuss the regulator’s mandate at its policy conference later this month and the central bank must be left independent to avoid to mismanagement.

“Once a Reserve Bank is managed incorrectly so and not through specific fiscal disciplinary mechanisms and legislation, a Reserve Bank can be a tool of destruction,” Duarte said in an interview with News24.

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