Durban - Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane says it’s regrettable that some elements of the country’s globally acclaimed constitution maintains the status quo of oppression.
Mkhwebane says among the issues the constitution protects is the Reserve Bank and lamented that it cannot be touched because it is protected to an extent that even when it is failing to deliver for the good of the larger population, it cannot be touched.
She was answering a range of questions during her office’s public engagement with various sectors in Durban on Wednesday afternoon.
On the issue of the Reserve Bank, Mkhwebane said a majority of the countries in the world did not ring fence their central banks with the constitution. According to her, that was done in order to ensure that the mandate of the banks is changed to suit the needs of that particular country and at different times.
“What is paining is that with our current constitution there are elements which are maintaining the current status quo of oppression… Yesterday Mr (Sibusiso) Nyembe (chief of staff in the PP’s office) spoke about the Reserve Bank and the way it is captured in the constitution, 90 percent to 95 percent of the countries of the world, they don’t have the Reserve Bank or their Central Bank in the constitution. They have the central banks as a national legislation so that they can change it as and when the demands of the country are changing.
“So by including it in the constitution here and place those very high standards that you need a two third (majority), you cannot touch (it). But why do we have it if it can’t assist us as a country to deal with the economic challenges?... So I think the issue of the constitution is where the problem lies and where we need dialogues,” Mkhwebane said.
At the present moment, the mandate of the Reserve Bank is primarily to curb inflation and it does so by occasionally twerking interest rates. Contrary, in some economically advanced countries, their central banks are used to drive economic growth and employment priorities.
In June 2017, Mkhwebane recommended to the national assembly to change the mandate of the Reserve Bank so that it can focus “socioeconomic well-being of the citizens” and ditch inflation targeting. She was heavily mauled for the recommendation that were eventually set aside by the courts.
Surprisingly, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Confederation of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) later made similar calls as made by Mkhwebane. The SACP would even debate the matter at its special conference mid next month in Gauteng.