'Tread with care around central bank' - Gwede Mantashe

Gwede Mantashe visited Xolobeni amid tight security to address a meeting. /Moeletsi Mabe
Gwede Mantashe visited Xolobeni amid tight security to address a meeting. /Moeletsi Mabe
Image: Moeletsi Mabe

ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe says the party has a responsibility to protect state coffers as it seeks to implement its resolution on the nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB).

Mantashe, who serves as minister of mineral resources, cautioned against acting carelessly on the matter as a few shareholders of the central bank are anxiously waiting to "cash out maximum benefit".

He was speaking on the sidelines of the second day of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) policy conference in Boksburg, yesterday.

"There are a combination of interests. these shareholders want to cash out and get maximum benefit. It is our responsibility to protect the coffers of the state," he said.

Mantashe's remarks comes after public spats and contradictions by senior ANC leaders, including party secretary-general Ace Magashule on the party's position on the SARB.

Earlier this month, Magashule told reporters the party's NEC resolved that SARB's mandate should be expanded.

His statement read: "It was agreed that all deployees will ensure that resolutions of the 54th National Conference will be fully implemented, in this regard, the ANC NEC lekgotla agreed to expand the mandate of the South African Reserve Bank beyond price stability to include growth and employment. It also directed the ANC government to consider constituting a task team to explore quantity easing measures to address intergovernmental debts to make funds available for developmental purposes".

The statement triggered an outcry, with finance minister Tito Mboweni and Enoch Godongwana, chairperson of the party's economic transformation committee, leading the charge against Magashule.

Also at a ceremony to mark the 26th anniversary of the assassination of former SACP general secretary Chris Hani, Magashule urged ANC MP candidates to act urgently in nationalising the SARB along with other resolutions of the party.

Mantashe said nationalisation couldn't be expected to happen as soon as delegates walk out of conference.

"When you go to a conference and you take resolutions, one of the most important things is that you must make resolutions that will improve and make the economy work," he said.

"But there will be people who would read resolutions literally word for word and think that you can be reckless if you like and anything that you wish, it does not work in real life."

In his State of the Nation Address last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa reiterated his stance on the role of the central bank telling MPs that the bank should pursue its constitutional mandate "independently, without fear, favour or prejudice".

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