Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has again taken to Twitter to express his frustration, with his views on the role and independence of the SA Reserve Bank taking centre stage of a heated online debate.
"As a long standing member of the ANC and its leadership structures, I know and understand our resolutions. I don't need lectures on that. But on the SARB, I am convinced that we adopted a wrong resolution," he tweeted.
The role and mandate of the central bank – as well as a resolution to nationalise it – has been the subject of long-standing controversy. South Africa is one of just a handful of countries globally whose central bank is owned by private investors, though they do not have a say over policy.
As of now, 90% of the SARB profits are handed over to the National Revenue Fund. So? What do we want to achieve? Tell the public. Lets debate. Dont say internal debates, this is a fundamental National debate.— Tito Mboweni (@tito_mboweni) January 14, 2020
The ANC – which recently celebrated its 108th birthday – reaffirmed the Reserve Bank's role, mandate and independence in an annual policy statement, Bloomberg reported on Sunday.
It said the transition toward public ownership must be conducted "in a manner and according to a timeframe that is prudent and affordable and that does not benefit private shareholder speculators".
On Tuesday, Mboweni challenged his Twitter followers to provide him with a compelling argument to nationalise the Reserve Bank.
Answer the question. What do you want to achieve by nationalizing the SARB. Don’t tell me about internal debates, NEC, etc. what do you want to achieve? Lets answer that fundamental question.— Tito Mboweni (@tito_mboweni) January 14, 2020
" Answer the question. What do you want to achieve by nationalizing the SARB. Don’t tell me about internal debates, NEC, etc. what do you want to achieve? Lets answer that fundamental question (sic)," he said.
He invited those who disagreed too heartily to "burn [him] at the stake", before announcing that he was "off to an early dinner".
A number of followers promised they would not burn him in a hurry.
Last week Mboweni expressed his frustration at the slow pace of economic reform in SA. He warned that time is of the essence and spoke of the "dire consequences" of not creating "deep structural economic reforms" and warned of SA heading to junk status if that is not done.The Reserve Bank's Monetary Policy Committee is set to meet this week, and expected to make the first repo rate announcement on Thursday.
* Additional reporting by Marelise van der Merwe