The Reserve Bank’s decision on whether to raise interest rates for the first time in more than two years will likely be a close one, with economists almost split down the middle. It is the first monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting since the retirement of Brian Kahn, presumed to have been a dove, which means that if the remaining six members are split, governor Lesetja Kganyago will have the deciding vote. While the Bank has succeeded in keeping inflation within its 3%-6% target range since April 2017, Kganyago has repeatedly said that he would want to see it closer to the middle of that range. Inflation accelerated to 5.1% in October, driven mostly by record fuel prices, data from Stats SA showed on Wednesday. Of the 21 economists in a Bloomberg survey, 11 said that they expect a 25-basis point increase in the repurchase rate to 6.75%, while the rest expect it to remain unchanged. A hike on Thursday would be the first since March 2016.

The MPC changed the rate only once in...

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