Public Protector Busisiwe Mkwebane has asked for a Constitutional amendment of the Reserve Bank’s role in the economy, after finding that the national bank is currently geared to serving “only the benefits of a few.”
Speaking at a findings presentation on Monday morning, Mkwebane recommended the changes after finding that the South African government was allowed to recover R1.125 billion in “misappropriated public funds” given to Absa bank during the apartheid era.
Mkwebane specifically requested that the Reserve’s Bank’s duties to the public be Constitutionally altered to better reflect the need for economic transformation in the country.
She wants the primary objective of the Reserve Bank to change from protecting the value of the currency, to ensuring the socio-economic well-being of citizens.
The current objective of the Reserve Bank, as written in the Constitution is as follows:
(1) The primary object of the South African Reserve Bank is to protect the value of the currency in the interest of balanced and sustainable economic growth in the Republic.
(2) The South African Reserve Bank, in pursuit of its primary object, must perform its functions independently and without fear, favour or prejudice, but there must be regular consultation between the Bank and the Cabinet member responsible for national financial matters.
Under Mkhwebane’s recommendation, Section 224 of the Constitution should read:
(1) The primary object of the SARB is to promote balanced and sustainable economic growth in the Republic, while ensuring that the socio-economic well-being of the citizens are protected.
(2) The South African Reserve Bank, in pursuit of its primary object, must perform its functions independently and without fear, favour or prejudice, while ensuring that there must be regular consultation between the Bank and Parliament to achieve meaningful socio-economic transformation.
This amendment will be undertaken by the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services who will initiate the process by introducing a motion in the National Assembly.