By Pinky Khoabane
On Tuesday 6 March 2018, the African National Congress (ANC) withdrew its motion to debate the nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB). In a brief statement, the ruling party said the motion was withdrawn “to allow for greater consultation within structures of the African National Congress and key stakeholders”.
The ANC’s 54th National Conference held in December last year resolved that the Reserve Bank must be wholly owned and controlled by the state. Such a resolution would have been passed having initially been discussed at the policy conference in June of the same year and thereafter at branches and other structures of the ANC. This explanation of the withdrawal which the ruling party says was for purposes of consulting with structures of the ANC begs the question: which are these structures?
The ANC can ill-afford to create confusion around this matter as it may give the impression that it’s up for negotiation. It isn’t. It is a resolution taken at an ANC national conference and should therefore not be up for review or negotiated with “key stakeholders” whoever they may be.
The debate on secrecy and the lack of accountability by central banks is happening around the world and most recently in the United States of America where the Federal Reserve has come under serious scrutiny on accountability to the American public. And so the resolution of the ANC is not only in line with international standards but it is also within the context of a highly untransformed sector dominated by white capitalists.
Interestingly, the motion was to be debated on the same day that Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane appeared before parliament’s committee on justice to explain herself on various investigations including the Vrede Farm. This is the dairy farm which it is alleged the Guptas used to siphon-off money from the Free State provincial government. In her report, there’s no mention of the Guptas but the PP explained that not only had the report been completed by the time she took office, the complaint, lodged by the Democratic Alliance in the Free State, was more about maladministration and financial mismanagement of the project and didnt mention the Guptas. There has been the question of whether she couldn’t extend the investigation to include revelations of the leaked Gupta emails.
Given the timing, it may well be that those in the ANC Caucus who have taken umbrage with Mkhwebane’s findings on other matters may have decided the timing to debate the reserve bank nationalisation on the same day they were supposed to lambast her was not quite right. She, after all, ruled that the SARB should be nationalised and ABSA should pay back the money for apartheid’s looting of public coffers when it bailed out Bankorp. The courts have decided to set-aside both findings but the ANC conference adopted the resolution to have SARB nationalised.
Whatever the decision behind the withdrawal of the motion, the ANC cant back-track on its call to unify the party through embracing all resolutions and the entire National Executive Committee (NEC) irrespective of the faction from which they came.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has also set a precedent that the party will not tolerate lying. He fired the ministers who the public protector had found to have deliberately or inadvertently lied to parliament. Mkhwebane recently found former Ministers Lynne Brown and Des Van Rooyen to have “violated the executive ethics code” and recommended the president act against them.
She found van Rooyen had misled parliament when he said he had not visited the Guptas in the days ahead of his short appointment as finance minister. Here’s the PP’s ruling on van Rooyen. http://www.pprotect.org/sites/default/files/legislation_report/Signed%20Formal%20report%20Minister%20Van%20Rooyen%20to%20Pres%20%20Zuma.pdf
Mkwhebane also found Brown had inadvertently misled parliament when she said there had been no contract between Eskom and Trillian. It later emerged that there was a contract between the two companies which Brown said Eskom had withheld from her. Here’s the Brown ruling. http://www.pprotect.org/sites/default/files/legislation_report/Minister%20Lynne%20Brown%20report.pdf
A letter to Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete, Ramaphosa writes: “Reference is made to the Public Protector on the above matter….I have relieved Mr van Rooyen of his duties as Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs”.
The ANC has promised to re-table the motion and can ill-afford to be seen to be lying.
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