Reserve Bank wins Court Battle against Protector’s Attempt to eliminate its Independence

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has won its application to have the Public Protector’s remedial action to change its constitutional mandate set aside. The judgment was delivered in the North Gauteng High Court this morning by Justice Cynthia Pretorius following the SARB’s application on August 1. The judgment, read on behalf of Judge John Murphy, comes a few days before August 18, the deadline that the SARB and Parliament were given to respond to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane with an action plan on her remedial action. The judge said the obligation placed on the chairperson of the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services and the SARB to submit an action plan is also set aside.

Mkhwebane must pay costs for the application, up to and including the filing of her answering affidavit, and the employment of her two counsel the judge said. During the hearing on August 1, the SARB opposed Mkhwebane’s order, which was part of a report released in June based on an investigation into the Bankorp bailout during the apartheid era. Mkhwebane ordered the bank’s mandate to be changed to ensure the socio-economic well-being of citizens and to achieve socio-economic transformation.

However, the bank contested this on several grounds, among these that it falls outside the Public Protector’s powers and that the remedial action breached the separation of powers because it encroached on Parliament’s exclusive domain. It was also not related to the subject of the Public Protector’s investigation.

This was most likely only the first of many actions to be expected from the new Protector. As her appointment was based on nepotistic considerations and not on professional merits like with Thuli Madonsela, she will only be the puppet of Zuma and the NEC and will do their biddings in order to cement their vanishing powers and influence. We can be proud that once more the judicial system has been “fire-proof” and delivered the right decision in favour of the stability of the country instead of the pockets of their erratic leadership.

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