Mkhwebane open to talks on Reserve Bank — report

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is open to talks on her recommendation to change the South African Reserve Bank’s mandate, a proposal that has drawn sharp criticism from Parliament, the ruling party and investors, a local news agency said on Saturday.

Mkhwebane’s recommendation to alter the Reserve Bank’s principal constitutional mandate of maintaining currency and price stability to focus on economic growth has highlighted worsening divisions between the country’s state institutions.

Both the Reserve Bank and Parliament plan to mount legal challenges to the proposal.

Mkhwebane defended her recommendation but said she was willing to hold discussions with those opposing it, news agency Eyewitness News (EWN) reported.

“I haven’t overstepped and I think those will be thedeliberations which we’ll be having further and again. I’ll see how the notice of motion, the content and why are they disputing that. We’ll take it from there,” Mkhwebane was quoted as saying.

Mkhwebane made her proposal on Monday as she delivered her findings on an apartheid-era bailout of Absa bank.

The lender has denied any wrongdoing.

Her call threatens to further stain South Africa’s image as an investor-friendly emerging market, coming less than a week after mines minister Mosebenzi Zwane spooked investors by raising the minimum threshold for black ownership of mining companies to 30% from 26%.

The row over the Reserve Bank’s role has also highlighted divisions in the tripartite political alliance of the ANC, the country’s biggest union, Cosatu, and the South African Communist Party (SACP).

Both the ANC and the SACP are opposed to altering the role of the Reserve Bank while Cosatu has backed calls for changes.

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