Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has taken to Twitter to throw his weight behind President Cyril Ramaphosa, saying there "should be no issues" regarding the mandate of the Reserve Bank.
Ramaphosa issued a statement earlier on Thursday evening, affirming the current mandate of the Reserve Bank and describing the fracas surrounding it as "not helpful". According to Ramaphosa, the ANC wanted the central bank to be publicly owned, but didn't believe this was "prudent" given the current economic and fiscal circumstances.
The bank's mandate should be carried out in consultation with government via the finance minister, he added.
Echoing Ramaphosa's earlier statement, the minister tweeted on Thursday evening: "The Constitution sets the mandate of the SARB as protecting 'the value of the currency (the Rand) in the interests of balanced and sustainable economic growth'. In balanced growth is embedded all variables: Employment, price stability, etc. So there should be no issues really."
He also said he was "at ease" regarding the bank's ownership.
"Whether the SARB has private or public ownership should really not divide us. It is not fundamental. Either way, I am at ease!"
Whether the SARB has private or public ownership should really not divide us. It is not fundamental. Either way, I am at ease!— Tito Mboweni (@tito_mboweni) June 6, 2019
He further quoted directly from Ramaphosa's statement, adding that the public should "read the Constitution".
ANC PRESIDENT AFFIRMS THE SA RESERVE BANK INDEPENDENCE: “ The Officials emphasized the policy positions of the ANC on the independence and role of the South African Reserve Bank as set out in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.”. Read the Constitution..— Tito Mboweni (@tito_mboweni) June 6, 2019
On Tuesday, ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule said the NEC - the ANC's highest decision making body between conferences - had agreed that the Reserve Bank’s mandate should be expanded beyond price stability to make it an active agent in economic transformation and job creation, sparking widespreaad confusion over the fate of the central bank.
The public spat over the SARB dented the rand's performance on Tuesday, with the currency declining by as much as 1% against the dollar in earlier on the day. By Thursday afternoon, the rand broke through the R15/$ mark for the first time in eight months.
Magashule's statement was contradicted by Enoch Godongwana, also an NEC member and the head of the ANC's sub committee for economic transformation.
The next day, seemingly in response to Magashule's statement, Mboweni retweeted a comment that under the Mbeki presidency, only four people had been allowed to speak in matters regarding the economy.
In the Mbeki Presidency, there were only 4 people permitted to talk on matters regarding the economy. 1. The President.2. Finance Minister.3. SARB Governor.4. Labour Minister.Why? To avoid miscommunication around policy as we're witnessing currently.
— Jimmy Sosa (@LungeloN_Zulu) June 5, 2019
Shortly after Ramaphosa issued his statement on Thursday, a seemingly contradictory tweet appeared to be issued from Magashule's account, which was promptly deleted. Magashule denied sending it, saying there was a "fake tweet doing the rounds".
Former president Jacob Zuma also waded into the debate on Thursday evening, tweeting excerpts from a resolution document adopted by the ANC at its elective congress in December 2017.