Nationalisation of the Reserve Bank cannot be reckless — Mantashe

Mantashe said the ANC-led government has a responsibility to protect state coffers as it implements its resolution on the nationalisation of the SARB. (David Harrison)

Mantashe said the ANC-led government has a responsibility to protect state coffers as it implements its resolution on the nationalisation of the SARB. (David Harrison)

The ANC’s responsibility is to protect the coffers of the state, as some shareholders of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) are waiting in the wings “to cash out for maximum benefit” after the party resolved to nationalise the central bank, party chairman Gwede Mantashe said on Thursday.

Mantashe said the ANC-led government has a responsibility to protect state coffers as it implements its resolution on the nationalisation of the SARB and cannot act recklessly.

Mantashe chastised those expecting the resolution to be implemented “as soon as you walk out of conference”.

“We have five years,” he said, speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) policy conference in Boksburg.

Mantashe is the latest ANC leader to defend President Cyril Ramaphosa’s stance on the nationalisation of the SARB, as the faction aligned to secretary general Ace Magashule has been using the resolution on the central bank as a proxy battle to weaken Ramaphosa, arguing that he has side-stepped ANC resolutions.

The fiscal situation at present was extremely difficult and the resolution did not say “nationalise without compensation,” Mantashe said.

Therefore the ANC had to act responsibly and protect state coffers as beneficiaries were waiting in the wings to “cash out”, he said.

“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 said there was no disagreement on the fact that the bank should be owned by the state, as is the case with 70% of the central banks in the world. But the ANC could not act recklessly just because “some people are shouting slogans”.

“You have to manage change, you cannot be a victim of change… resolutions are made to make the economy work… people read resolutions literally word for word and think we can be reckless. In real life it doesn’t work like that,” he said.

“We are all aware resolutions have to be done, but we have five years to do it.”

Nehawu leadership at the four-day policy conference has been critical of the lack of urgency by Ramaphosa’s administration to nationalise the SARB. The union is Cosatu’s second largest affiliate. The federation too criticised Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and ANC economic chief Enoch Godongwana when the pair contradicted Magashule’s stance on the bank in a bitter public spat following the ANC’s national executive committee lekgotla earlier this month. 

Natasha Marrian