Busisiwe Mkhwebane
Oopsie - Busisiwe Mkhwebane

The Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's decision to back down on defending her recommendation that Reserve Bank do much more focus on keeping the currency stable has South Africans in a fury saying it shows she didn’t know what she was doing.

Mkhwebane recommended that Parliament change laws to alter power of the Reserve Bank‚ moving it from managing the currency to focusing on economic growth. 

Her report had to be implemented or be reviewed and set aside by court.

Her ideas led to the rand plummeting.

The Reserve Bank‚ Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba and Parliament approached the court ‚ arguing she had overstepped her mandate.

On Monday‚ her reasons given in her court papers are that she didn't know she didn’t have the power to convey a "mandatory review" by Parliament to change to the Constitution.

In her papers‚ she admits the Constitution gives Parliament the right to change laws with a majority‚ but does not give bodies such as hers the right to "dictate" to Parliament.

She has damaged investor perceptions and weakened the rand all for nought‚ says many South Africans commenting on twitter.

Financial analyst at Nomura‚ Peter Attald Montalto said: “She was probably instructed by higher powers to order changes to the Reserve Bank's mandate. It is quite simply bizarre that so much damage can be done and then not even backed up with the decency to defend the report. Whilst we will likely end up with the same outcome (that the remedial action is dismissed) it hints further that the action around the SA Reserve Bank was not the decision of the Public Protector but instead placed there by others. It shows the Public Protector did not understand the full scope of what she was suggesting or its implications."

The Democratic Alliance spokesman on justice Glynnis Breytenbach has said: "There seem to be only one of two possible explanations for this travesty – either Mkhwebane understanding of the Constitution and the law is so inadequate that she could make such a blatantly flawed recommendation‚ or she consciously did so in order to further the interests of outside parties. While the first explanation is gravely concerning‚ the second far more sinister explanation is something which if true should concern us all."

Financial analyst Karin Richards said that ignorance of the law is a not a legitimate defence.

Richards asked: "How did we end up with a Public Protector who issues irresponsible rulings‚ wrecks markets‚ backs down‚ but still defends her own stupidity?"

The rand while depreciating during her initial announcement did not move when the announcement that she would not defend her decision was made.

She has said she will pay costs

However‚ it means the taxpayer is ultimately paying for court action‚ in which the finance minister‚ Parliament and Reserve Bank all went to have her report reviewed by the court and set aside.  Breytenbach said she should pay them out of her own pocket.

"The Office of the Public Protector is already under-funded and it is shameful that money‚ which could instead be used to investigate injustices in South Africa‚ will instead be used to pay for court proceedings - which should never have occurred in the first place."

- TimesLIVE


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