Tito Mboweni. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER
Tito Mboweni. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER

The ANC has cautioned finance minister Tito Mboweni not to make public comments about the party’s policy positions, specifically on the SA Reserve Bank.

This was after Mboweni, who is also an ANC national executive committee (NEC) member, tweeted that he believed the resolution to nationalise the Bank was a mistake.

“As a long-standing member of the ANC and its leadership structures, I know and understand our resolutions. I don’t need lectures on that. But on the SA Reserve Bank, I am convinced that we adopted a wrong resolution. What do we want to achieve? Our strategic focus: structural economic reforms,” he tweeted on Tuesday.

At the ANC’s 2017 Nasrec conference, the party resolved to nationalise the Bank, even though that would have no bearing on its mandate, which is enshrined in the constitution.

Members of the ANC have been divided over the resolution ever since, leading to a number of public spats.

The party was embroiled in a raging debate in 2019 about the role of Bank, which roiled markets especially after ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule issued a statement saying the party wanted to expand the Bank's mandate to include growth and employment, and to explore the use of quantitative easing to deal with government debt.

Mboweni was one of those who came out against Magashule’s comment at the time.

Three days later, President Cyril Ramaphosa had to walk back the statement, saying the ANC would not seek to nationalise the central bank or expand its mandate.

In a thread on Twitter this week, Mboweni asked what would be achieved by nationalising the Bank.

“Don’t tell me about internal debates, NEC, etc. What do you want to achieve? Let’s answer that fundamental question,” he said.

The ANC said on Wednesday that Mboweni, as finance minister, should act with care and caution at all times on matters of policy, and should subject himself to the party’s communications protocols.

It said those who served in leadership structures, especially on the NEC, the party’s highest decision-making body between conferences, were expected to uphold and defend ANC resolutions on public platforms.

“The leadership of the ANC is expected to appreciate the need to articulate a consistent, coherent and unifying message on policy positions,” spokesperson Pule Mabe said in a statement.

“Unfortunate public spats initiated without any form of provocation feeds into the narrative of ‘lack of policy certainty’.”

He said only the national conference had the right and power to review, ratify, alter or rescind any decision taken and that the ANC constitution only allows for the president, as the political head, to make pronouncements for, and on behalf of, the NEC, outlining and explaining the policy or attitude of the party on any question.

ANC members were entitled to take part in discussions, formulation and implementation of policies through appropriate internal platforms.

“Any public statement by a leader of the ANC questioning the wisdom of a national conference outside formal structures have the potential to create confusion within and outside the organisation,” Mabe said.

The ANC encouraged leaders and members to exercise freedom of speech within the confines of the structures and discipline of the ANC, he said.

Mabe reiterated what Ramaphosa had said during the ANC’s 108th anniversary in the Northern Cape last weekend, reaffirming the role, mandate and independence of the Bank and that it would “undertake the process towards full public ownership of the Bank in a manner and according to a time frame that is prudent and affordable and that does not benefit private shareholder speculators”.


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