Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is mulling over mounting a legal challenge to the application by SARB on her recommendations to curtail its powers. Picture: Reuters/Mike Hutchings

Johannesburg - Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is contemplating mounting a legal challenge to the application by the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) on her recommendations to curtail its powers.

Mkhwebane’s spokesperson, Cleo Mosana, said on Wednesday that the public protector would meet her legal team to consider her options.

She has also noted the intention by Absa to join the Reserve Bank’s application in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria.

Sarb governor Lesetja Kganyago lodged his papers this week and accused the public protector of trying to undermine the role and functions of the bank. 

He said Mkhwebane did not have the powers to order Parliament to amend the constitution.

Mosana said: “The public protector has perused the application and will meet with the legal team and decide on whether to oppose."

“The basis or grounds of the public protector’s opposition of the judicial review application, if the public protector decides to oppose, will be contained in the answering affidavit, which will be filed in court soon.”

Mkhwebane was strongly criticised across parties in Parliament and civil society for her decision to clip the wings of the bank. The ANC said she did not have powers to order Parliament to change the mandate of the reserve bank.

Parliament also said on Friday that it would lodge court action against Mkhwebane to set aside her findings.

It said the public protector did not have powers to instruct the chairman of the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services, Mathole Motshekga, to initiate a process of amending the constitution.

Absa has also expressed an intention to lodge a court application against Mkhwebane’s report. A constitutional amendment would require support of two-thirds of MPs in the National Assembly.

But most of the parties have rejected her findings and said she did not have the authority to tell Parliament what to do.

They said Parliament derived its mandate from the constitution and that could not be taken away by Mkhwebane.

Parliament said what Mkhwebane was doing was trying to usurp the powers of the institution.

In his application in court, Kganyago said Mkhwebane’s findings had financial implications, with the rand taking a knock against major currencies. Shares for the banks were also affected.

The ratings agencies have already warned that any interference with the independence of the bank would cause further credit rating downgrades.

South Africa was downgraded in April by Fitch and Standard & Poor’s and this was followed recently by another downgrade by Moody’s.

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