For most people the inner workings of the SA Reserve Bank are fearsome and arcane. As our neighbours to the north regularly illustrate, it is a few short steps from political opportunism to hyperinflation and total economic collapse. As the Bank has it, if reducing interest rates by 0.25 or 0.5 of a percentage point runs a risk — any risk — of inflation, the risk is not worth taking.

In this fertile terrain, the Bank has cleverly inserted itself as the last frontier between order and chaos. Government departments and public enterprises have failed one after another. The SA Revenue Service (Sars) has been irretrievably compromised. The Treasury has permitted a reckless expansion of government debt. The Bank could credibly claim to be the last functioning organ of state — except that its monetary policy has brought SA to the brink of catastrophe.

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