President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO

President Cyril Ramaphosa, after a meeting with the SA Reserve Bank board, will apply his mind to filling the vacancies at the Bank, the presidency said on Monday.

Top priority for Ramaphosa will be filling the spot of Francois Groepe, who resigned as deputy governor in January, and retaining Daniel Mminele, whose contract expires at the end of June.

Continuity at the Bank is important, especially at a time when it has become a proxy battle between warring factions in the ANC.

Governor Lesetja Kganyago’s contract comes to an end in November. He has, however, indicated that he would be willing to stay on.

It is understood that deputy governor Kuben Naidoo’s contract comes to an end in March 2020.

In the next nine months, three vacancies will arise at the Reserve Bank, which will need to be filled by Ramaphosa as soon as possible.

According to the SA Reserve Bank Act, the bank is managed by a board of 14 directors, including a governor and three deputy governors, and three other directors, who are all appointed by the president in consultation with the finance minister.

Ramaphosa met with the Bank’s board in Pretoria on Friday and the vacancies were discussed. Newly appointed finance deputy minister David Masondo, representatives of the nonexecutive component of the board and Kganyago also attended the meeting.

“He has been briefed on the vacancies and will be applying his mind to filling these in due course,” presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko said, adding that Ramaphosa welcomed the engagement with the Bank.

“The president has reiterated his commitment to safeguarding the high reputation the Bank enjoys in the international financial community and markets and [is] committed to ensuring directors of a high calibre, befitting the importance our country attaches to the Bank, are appointed.”

This comes following confusion over the ANC’s stance on the mandate and ownership of the Bank. Ramaphosa recently had to walk back comments made by ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule that the party wanted the Bank’s mandate expanded and wanted to explore quantitative easing measures to address intergovernmental debts to make funds available for developmental purposes.

Magashule’s comments came on the same day that Statistics SA announced that the economy had its biggest contraction since the depths of the global financial crisis. The comments on the Bank created uncertainty in the markets and saw the rand slump.

Groepe’s resignation from the Bank means there is a vacancy on the monetary policy committee. Brian Kahn retired from the committee in 2018. However, in May, the Reserve Bank appointed Christopher Loewald as the sixth member of the committee.

quintalg@businesslive.co.za