Natasha Marrian Political editor: Business Day
Bank business: The South African Reserve Bank headquarters in Pretoria. The debate over the nationalisation of the Bank has intensified since the ANC proposal in December 2017. But its independence is enshrined in the country’s Constitution. Picture: BLOOMBERG
Bank business: The South African Reserve Bank headquarters in Pretoria. The debate over the nationalisation of the Bank has intensified since the ANC proposal in December 2017. But its independence is enshrined in the country’s Constitution. Picture: BLOOMBERG

The ANC says it will engage widely on the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank before moving forward with the implementation of the policy adopted at its conference in December.

The party appears to be treading cautiously after hastily tabling a motion on the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank in Parliament before withdrawing it at the prompting of Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.

There seems to be confusion in the ANC about the difference between the Bank’s ownership and its mandate.

The president appoints the Bank’s governor, who heads the monetary policy committee which oversees its mandate. According to the Constitution, the Bank is independent from the government and private shareholders have no influence over monetary policy.

President Cyril Ramaphosa was unequivocal about the future of the Bank at an interaction with editors last week, saying its independence — as enshrined in the Constitution — was sacrosanct and should not be changed.

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule told journalists on Tuesday that the matter would be dealt with "sensitively", with the party set to engage broadly on the issue first. This approach is similar to the one it had adopted on the land question. He said the national executive committee (NEC) called for an "urgent focus on the nationalisation of the SARB [Reserve Bank] and on an economic recovery plan".

The ANC has tasked its economic transformation subcommittee to research and further investigate nationalising the Reserve Bank.

Magashule said the Bank matter was a resolution from national conference and the NEC had asked the subcommittee to approach it as it had approached the land matter.

This involved engaging investors and stakeholders.

"Reserve banks or central banks around the world belong to the state … that is why we are going to deal with this matter. Modalities are something else, but we will engage," Magashule said, adding the policy implementation had no timeline.

The NEC endorsed the outcome of the ANC’s summit on land, which called for testing the country’s Constitution to check whether it allows for expropriation without compensation.

"We are going to start expropriating land without compensation … this will be done in an orderly fashion," he said.

The NEC called for the government to speedily appoint a panel on land and agrarian reform and also on municipalities to begin providing "site and service" opportunities to communities, a programme already under way under Premier David Makhura in Gauteng.

marriann@businesslive.co.za

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