The public protector received a dressing down in the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday, with counsel for the Reserve Bank, Absa and Parliament schooling her in the constitutional limits to her powers and the role of central banks. Despite Busisiwe Mkhwebane earlier backing down on her instruction that the Bank’s constitutional mandate be changed, counsel for the three affected parties saw fit to address at length the failure of a Chapter Nine institution to abide by the Constitution. Absa, the National Assembly and the South African Reserve Bank still had to go to court to ask it to set aside Mkhwebane’s recommendations as is required by the Constitution. That nobody could fetter Parliament’s discretion in the advance of its duties was a “foundational principle of constitutional law” that escaped Mkhwebane, said advocate Gilbert Marcus, acting for Absa, which joined the Reserve Bank in the matter as a respondent. Absa has instituted a separate appeal against Mkhwebane’s recommendati...

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