ANC wasn’t ready for Reserve Bank debate

2018-03-11 06:00

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A last-minute scramble to put together a list of speakers could not help the ANC push through Tuesday’s contentious motion on the public ownership of the SA Reserve Bank – and the presence of Moody’s in the country strengthened the argument of those who preferred the risky motion be withdrawn.

The ANC whip’s office in Parliament will come under fire as the party, seemingly ill-prepared, allowed a poorly timed motion on the ownership of the Reserve Bank on to the order paper just as Moody’s ratings agency landed in the country.

The withdrawn motion on full public ownership of the bank – a proposal that gained popularity at the ANC national conference last December at Nasrec – will be on the agenda when the ANC national working committee meets tomorrow.

“We don’t know what happened and we are not sure what made us not ready at the particular time, but we want answers,” ANC Women’s League secretary Meokgo Matuba told City Press.

“But we think that because it is a resolution of conference, we don’t need to negotiate it, we need to implement it.”

Matuba dismissed concerns about the negative effect to the economy, citing other countries in which the Reserve Bank was controlled by the state and their economies continued to flourish.

ANC MPs, including Thandi Tobias who was going to participate in the debate and Joanmariae Fubbs in whose name the motion was tabled, were informed only on Sunday about their participation in the debate, affording them only two days to prepare.

Sources claimed that Enoch Godongwana, who chairs the ANC’s economic transformation subcommittee, pulled the plug on the motion as ANC MPs were not prepared for the debate.

But Godongwana told City Press he was not informed of the tabling or removal of the motion.

Officially, the office of the ANC chief whip said the debate was withdrawn to allow greater consultation within ANC structures and key stakeholders, sparking a backlash from the ANC Youth League that “the reasons behind the withdrawal of the motion are flimsy and not politically convincing”.

This took place in the absence of ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu, who buried his mother last weekend.

Fubbs declined to comment when asked about withdrawing the motion, saying she didn’t have the authority to speak to the media about the issue and referring questions to Mthembu’s deputy Doris Dlakude and ANC head of strategy Richard Mdakane.

Dlakude was not available for comment. Mdakane kept mum when asked why the motion was tabled without the necessary consultations alluded to in the party statement.

“I can’t comment on this one,” is all he would say.

ANC head of elections Fikile Mbalula said it would have been a tactical blunder to push for the motion at the time that Moody’s ratings agency was in the country.

“There is nothing wrong with Moody’s consideration because we need to get our economy offloaded from the status it is at. I see people running away from the question that Moody’s are in the country.

“Not that we seek permission from them if there is any explanation required, it is important so that we are a responsible government.”

He said the ANC would not want “to drown the economy to the point where the question of land expropriation without compensation, not even Reserve Bank, is not understood”.

Possible pressure from the presidency and the Reserve Bank have been cited as reasons for the withdrawal on concerns that the risky political move could erode any goodwill President Cyril Ramaphosa had generated.

Reserve Bank spokesperson Jabulani Sikhakhane denied there was any interference from the bank or its governor Lesetja Kganyago with internal processes and decisions of any political party.

But he said “the line of argument advanced by your sources is similar to what the Reserve Bank said in a media statement issued in December 2017”, said Sikhakhane.

In the statement, the bank said it was of the view that “the process of changing the ownership structure of the Reserve Bank now could raise the level of risk and uncertainty for the country in both a financial and economic policy sense”.

“This heightened exposure to risk is unwarranted given the country’s fragile economic situation,” the bank said then.

City Press has learnt that the ANC would prefer to implement its Nasrec national conference resolution with minimal tampering with the Constitution.

Read more on:    sarb  |  anc

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