ANC bans spokesperson Phelisa Nkomo from talking about the economy
Nkomo’s bizarre statement on the Reserve Bank’s interest rate decision raised questions about the ANC’s commitment to the Bank’s independence
ANC communicator Phelisa Nkomo, who issued a statement on the SA Reserve Bank decision to keep the repo unchanged, has been barred from commenting further on the economy, according to sources in Luthuli House.
Business Day understands that Nkomo, who reports to both the ANC election head Fikile Mbalula and national spokesman Pule Mabe, may face further action. It was unclear whether this would include a summary dismissal.
In a bizarre statement on the Bank’s decision, Nkomo, who is a former chairperson of the Media Diversity and Development Agency, "implored" the monetary policy committee members to "prioritise the plight of poor South Africans" after the Bank had announced its decision.
The statement suggested the ANC was attempting to influence the Bank’s decision, a violation of its independence, which is enshrined in the constitution.
The contentious statement comes after debate within the ANC on the ownership of the Reserve Bank at the party’s national conference. It also is reminiscent of a now set aside report by public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, in which she recommended that the mandate of the bank be tampered with.
The ANC’s economic policy head, Enoch Godonongwa, moved swiftly to retract Nkomo’s statement. He was emphatic in his statement that the ANC respects the independence of the Reserve Bank.
Godongwana’s statement said the initial one was issued "without the requisite consultation".
Nkomo’s statement also called on the ANC-led government to "take immediate and concrete steps to lift the growth rate by activating macroeconomic policy tools".
Nkomo said monetary policy was a critical legislative instrument in driving growth.
ANC spokesman Mabe, whose signature appeared on both statements, could not immediately be reached for comment.