Bruce Whitfield: Ace Magashule is playing Russian roulette with your future

Ace Magashule doesn’t give a damn about you and your ability to feed your kids, educate them, or provide a better future for them than you had.

If he did, he would not be in open warfare with the president and his economic cluster over the mandate of the Reserve Bank and its ownership.

Frankly, a guy with no grip on the concept of quantitative easingand its likely consequences for a suffering country should not be making pronouncements on policy, regardless of his interpretation of the resolutions of the ANC conference at Nasrec of 2017 or its election manifesto. 

Those resolutions taken at Nasrec were full of the necessary caveats to protect the economy and the independence of the SA Reserve Bank. Critically on issues pertaining to the Reserve Bank, point 30 of the party resolution states:”Government must develop a proposal to ensure full public ownership in a manner that does not benefit private shareholder interests.”

The party handed the Reserve Bank project to government. It entrusted its deployed cadres to positions of power to sensibly apply its resolutions. They have been provided the leeway to make those decisions in the best interests of the country. 

Yet its Secretary General this week embarked on an extraordinary public assault on the institution and its mandate, confusing an already complex issue with which the ANC must wrestle. 

The problem is that the wrestling match has turned into a full-blown no-holds-barred cage fight between ANC factions. 

It’s moved from obnoxious to toxic in a few short steps. 

And Magashule’s attempt to first delete a Thursday afternoon tweet, already screen-grabbed by observant politics watchers, and then to deny he’d sent it just as a conciliatory statement came from the office of the ANC president, was met with the derision it deserved. 

When I asked Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago to respond to Magashule’s earlier statements on the need for government to implement ANC resolutions, he was unequivocal. The Reserve Bank does not respond to political parties. It’s answerable to the constitution via its government mandate. 

That’s the way it should be. 

You can bet your bottom dollar that we will soon see proposals for amendments to the constitution governing the Reserve Bank mandate. Just as we have seen proposals to amend the constitution unnecessarily on land reform.

In the meantime, Magashule appeared to come back into line and stressed that the statement issued from president Cyril Ramaphosa’s office that nationalising the Reserve Bank was not prudent, considering the state of the economy, was what had been agreed. 

It’s nothing more than cheap politicking in a battle for the control of the ANC.

Having read the devastating evidence put forward in the Pieter-Louis Myburgh book “Gangster State”, which details the empire created by the former Free State premier, we can only assume that there is a connection between a sordid underworld detailed in the book and attempts to undermine much-needed overdue reforms. 

It’s also abundantly clear that South Africa is deeply vulnerable to the vagaries of ideological battles within the governing party. 

South Africa is one heartbeat away from a potentially destructive shift in the political landscape.

Ramaphosa has deftly navigated through that morass so far, but the factional battles are undermining the real work South Africa needs to do to transform the economy into an engine for inclusive growth.

Bruce Whitfield is a multi-platform award-winning financial journalist and broadcaster.

Business Africa.

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