Tony Leon Columnist

Extract

Snippets from the recently launched ANC election manifesto conjured up the famous quip of Dorothy Parker about a spectacularly bad book: “This is not a novel to be tossed away lightly. It should be thrown away with great force.”

Parker, a renowned wit and critic, had her heyday in the 1920s, which is the era whence many of our governing party’s half-baked economic recipes derive.

There are, however, certain 21st century aspects in the ANC document.

But in respect of two of the touchiest issues which are likely to interrupt Cyril Ramaphosa’s jaunt in the Swiss Alps this week at the World Economic Forum (WEF), the manifesto did not long survive contact with reality. First, there is the issue of the SA Reserve Bank, and its mandate and independence. Unconstrained by the strictures of the constitution, the manifesto, launched on January 12, proclaimed that the role of the central bank needs to be expanded to include objectives way beyond its constitutional remit (protect the value of the currency “in the interest of balanced and sustainable growth”) to include a new raft of objectives. These would include the ominously ill-defined “second phase of the transition” and employment creation. You don’t need to be a semiologist to know that the idea here is to hit the printing presses to inflate growth. Venezuela, Zimbabwe and Argentina are the destinations here. Just to buttress rewriting the Bank’s mandate is the takeover of the Bank ...

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