Paul Mashatile. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Paul Mashatile. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

The ANC is fully behind President Cyril Ramaphosa’s bold defence of the Reserve Bank's mandate, ANC treasurer general Paul Mashatile said on Thursday night.

Ramaphosa, in his first state of the nation address, came out in support of the Bank’s mandate, which protects the value of the rand in the interest of balanced and sustainable growth,  following a fraught debate in the ANC.

“Today we reaffirm this constitutional mandate, which the Reserve Bank must pursue independently, without fear, favour or prejudice,” Ramaphosa said.

His comments followed confusion in the governing party over the Bank’s mandate. ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule first announced the mandate would be expanded to include employment and economic growth, after which Ramaphosa issued a statement as ANC president in which he emphatically said the mandate remained unchanged.

The issue is seen as a proxy battle between the different factions in the ANC.

Asked about Ramaphosa’s comment on the bank’s mandate, Mashatile said “the ANC is fully behind him. That is our position.”

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He emphasised that there would be no changes to the central bank’s mandate, adding that the ownership of the bank would stay the same “for now”.

The ANC had resolved to nationalise the Bank, but Ramaphosa  said in a statement as ANC president SA could just not afford it at this stage.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said it was “good that the president showed some leadership on it”, but questioned whether it would hold if the faction seen as aligned to Magashule pulled in a different direction.

Politicians spoke to the media on June 20 2019 after the second instalment of the state of the nation address by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Subscribe to TimesLIVE here:

Solly Mapaila, deputy general secretary of the SA Communist Party (SACP), one of the ANC’s alliance partners, said that the mandate of the Bank as articulated in the constitution was “very right”.  

He reiterated the party’s stance that finance minister Tito Mboweni and central bank governor Lesetja Kganyago were “minimalists" in their articulation of the mandate.

He agreed with Ramaphosa’s assessment that price stability was necessary but not a sufficient condition for economic growth.

Inkatha Freedom Party's Narend Singh approved of Ramaphosa’s comments on the Bank. “That has caused great confusion,” Singh said, adding that it had also frightened investors.

We always want to protect the rights of the South African Reserve Bank and they are doing a good job,” he said.