SA Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago has said that changing the mandate of the SA Reserve Bank would mean changing the Constitution.
"The independent central bank is one of the constitutional principles that underpinned the writing of the Constitution," he said in Pretoria on Thusrday afternoon. "When you talk about changing the mandate of the Reserve Bank, you are then talking about changing the Constitution."
Kganyago, who announced the bank’s monetary policy committee had decided to keep the repo rate unchanged at 6.75%, was speaking in the wake of calls to expand the bank's mandate, including in the ANC's recent election manifesto.
The ANC stated in its manifesto that the central bank must pursue a "flexible monetary policy regime", and monetary policy should take into account other objectives such as employment creation and economic growth.
Kganyago said the bank would not be commenting on specific manifestos, but he would weigh in on the "scholarly aspects" of the debate.
The bank’s mandate, as enshrined in the Constitution, is to "protect the value of the currency in the interests of balanced and sustainable growth in the republic", he said. "Underline that."
"The fathers and mothers of the Constitution took the view that, for you to have balanced and sustainable growth, you need price stability. We are very thankful that our forebears thought of this."
Asked about whether the central bank had become a proxy for factional political battles, Kganyago said the bank was not on the ballot and would stay out of the fray.
"Political parties pronounce in their manifestos. As the SARB, we have taken the view that this year there are going to be a lot of manifestos that get announced, given the proliferation of political parties in South Africa.
"It is not conceivable that we will be responding to each and every one of those manifestos. So we are staying out of commenting about the manifestos."