The South African Federation of Trade Unions condemns the statement by Tito Mboweni and Cyril Ramaphosa that the Reserve Bank’s “independence” is “non-negotiable”.
In a constitutional, democratic society, nothing can be “non-negotiable”; every South African has the right to a different view on anything, particularly on the role of an important national institution like the Reserve Bank.
SAFTU’s view is that the bank can never be ‘independent’ while in private ownership and for that reason we welcomed the decision by the ANC’s 2017 national conference that it should be nationalised.
The federation also welcomes the recent assurance by Secretary-General Ace Magashule that the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank was a resolution of the ANC’s “highest decision-making body”, and that “the officials of the ANC, we have met and we said we are going to implement every resolution from the national conference without flinching.”
SAFTU agrees with the conference that it is a historic anomaly that there are private shareholders of the Reserve Bank and that the government must develop a proposal to ensure full public ownership in a way that “does not benefit private shareholder speculators”.
The ANC’s 2019 elections manifesto however fails to mention nationalisation of the bank; it just calls for a more flexible monetary policy regime, aligned with the objectives of the ANC’s programmes, which must be done “without sacrificing the price stability, but redirecting monetary policy to take into account other socioeconomic objectives, such as employment creation and economic growth”.
SAFTU warns however that like so many previous manifesto promises even this watered-down promise will not be implemented; and the comments by Ramaphosa and Mboweni shows that the leadership is already fast retreating from the conference policy.
They are reacting to fears within the business world, particularly the finance sector. The Reserve Bank is not and never has been “independent”; it is dominated by, and acts in the interests of monopoly capital who oppose any measures that may loosen their iron grip on monetary policy.
They insist that the bank’s mandate limited to currency stability must remain, to ensure that it will not adopt policies which interfere with their untrammeled right to maximize their profits and exploit the workers and consumers.
Magashule’s comment has opened up another split in the ANC, which will make it even more paralysed and incapable of implementing any of the radical-sounding but empty manifesto promises.
SAFTU will intensify its campaign for the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank, and also of all the monopolised commercial banks so that that they are accountable to the people of South Africa and mandated to act in their best interests with policies that create employment, grow the economy and redistribute wealth.