The battle has just begun between the embattled Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba and public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane over high criminal allegation. Gigaba would mount a court challenge to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s findings and remedial action on Absa Bank and the SA Reserve Bank (SARB), his office announced on Wednesday afternoon.
In her report titled “Alleged Failure to Recover misappropriated Funds”, released last month, Mkhwebane criticised government and Sarb for failing to recover a R1.125-billion bailout given to Bankorp Limited/Absa Bank by the apartheid government.
She labelled the money an “illegal gift” to the Bankorp group.
Mkhwebane also directed Parliament to effect a Constitutional amendment to Sarb’s powers.
She wanted SARB to stop inflation-targeting, which the central bank used to protect the value of the rand.
Instead, the Public Protector said Sarb’s primary aim should be to promote balanced and sustainable economic growth, while ensuring that the socio-economic well-being of citizens was protected.
“The basis for the review is that, the remedial action breaches the principle of legality and the findings of fact are not necessarily adequately connected to the evidence which was before the Public Protector,” Treasury said in a statement.
“The Constitution does not contemplate the protection of the currency for its own sake, but specifically in the interest of balanced and sustainable economic growth. These two objectives of the Reserve Bank are mutually supportive and reinforcing.”
SARB and Parliament were also challenging the Public Protector’s report in court.
Treasury said the minister had not taken the decision to seek the judicial review lightly.
“He has taken the decision primarily to protect the constitutional mandate of the South African Reserve Bank, an important institution created by section 224(1) of the Constitution to ‘protect the value of the currency in the interest of balanced and sustainable economic growth in the Republic,’” the statement said.