President Cyril Ramaphosa’s silence on contradicting statements made by senior party leaders on the possible expansion of the mandate of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) is not an indictment on his leadership, former president Kgalema Motlanthe said on Thursday.
Motlanthe was speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the Gauteng Cabinet’s induction session in Rivonia. He said Ramaphosa should handle the matter with the dignity of the office he occupied, adding that an induction in the national office of government and the ANC was necessary.
“It is duty and responsibility of any governing party to always ensure that, even when they speak as many voices, the message must be the same. In order to achieve that, there must be no holy cows. Whatever you speak in multi-voices, carries the same message. We still need to do an induction at national level.”
This follows two days of confusion around the mandate of SARB. On Tuesday afternoon, ANC secretary general Ace Magashule held a media briefing to outline the outcomes of the party’s national executive committee (NEC) lekgotla that was held over the weekend.
During the briefing, Magashule made a startling revelation that the NEC had resolved to expand SARB’s mandate beyond price stability to include growth and employment.
“You don’t need to change the Constitution to do that,” Magashule said.
Shortly after he made this revelation, the ANC’s economic transformation head, Enoch Godongwana, released a statement disputing this, saying that the NEC lekgotla had no policy-making capacity. Godongwana denied that the lekgotla had made the decision Magashule mentioned.
“We can’t have policy uncertainty every time everybody raises the Reserve Bank. It’s unacceptable.”
Godongwana’s statement was closely followed by reaction from Mboweni, who took to social media. In a tweet, Mboweni said: “Government sets the mandate for the SARB. There is no quantitative easing thing here. The primary mandate of the SA Reserve Bank is to protect the value of the currency in the interest of balanced economic growth and development.”
Political analyst Professor Mcebisi Ndletyana agreed with Motlanthe, adding that the statements released by Godongwana and Mboweni were enough.
“The very fact you have the statement put forcefully by Magashule, and subsequent disagreement, is indication of the continuing disagreement and contestation within the ANC. That’s not new. You do want government and ANC to speak with the same voice and articulate it with the same language.
Ndletyana said it would be a “bad idea” for Ramaphosa to respond.
“We can’t expect him to respond every time there is disagreement,” he said.