In time the South African Reserve Bank will be obliged to raise interest rates to deal with higher consumer price inflation.

Johannesburg - The African National Congress policy conference agreed not to tamper with the independence of the SA Reserve Bank (Sarb), but raised concerns about its private ownership, the party's head of economic transformation said on Wednesday.  

''The commission agreed that the Reserve Bank's independence should be guaranteed as per the Constitution. Some unions had raised concerns about ownership, and that it is an abnormally to still have the bank in private hands,'' said Enoch Godongwana. 

There has been no movement on ownership of the bank since its establishment in 1921, he added.  

''South Africa is still stuck in that framework from the 1920s, we have not followed the worldwide trend regarding the central bank...other countries have moved and placed central banks in public control."
  
The SA Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) wanted the bank to be under public control, and not private shareholders.

Cosatu has argued that the reaction to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's recommendation that the Constitution be amended to change the bank's inflation targeting mandate to benefit all society economically ''showed that within the ruling elite, there are those who are happy with the status quo''.  

''Millions are isolated from the mainstream economy. This policy issue should not be treated as taboo because it is not natural law,'' said Cosatu. 

Godongwana said the conference also supported calls for the establishment of a state bank. A committee headed by the party's treasurer general Zweli Mkhize had been looking into the feasibility of a government-owned bank, he said.