Unconstitutional change to Constitution not supported – SACP

Party says Mkhwebane does not have the power or authority to order alterations to SA's founding law

SACP doesn’t support unconstitutional means to change our country’s Constitution regardless of the basis

21 June 2017

The SACP wishes to express its concern about the specific aspect of possible overreach by the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. The SACP strongly believes, and is concerned, that the remedial action announced on Monday by the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane instructing parliament to amend the Constitution to change the mandate of the Reserve Bank is ultra vires – i.e. it is beyond her legal power or authority.

To that extent the remedial action will have the effect of violating the principle of separation of powers. It will amount either to usurping the constitutional law making function of parliament or subordinating it to her dictates. With the content of the amendment decided solely by her, the remedial action further stands to undermine the principle of participatory democracy. It will render the constitutional requirement of consultation by parliament with the electorate on this matter meaningless. Parliament must take this remedial action for judicial review or outright approach the Constitutional Court for a declaratory order on its validity.

Equally unfortunate is the wording of some of the Public Protector’s announcements. Although this might be entirely fortuitous, Mkhwebane’s Monday intervention lends weight to the entirely spurious anti-bank campaign that is being spearheaded by the Gupta ideological apparatus, The New Age and ANN7 and their echo chambers elsewhere, including in the captured ranks within our broader political movement. This has absolutely nothing to do with social justice and everything to do with those who seek to cover up their wrongful deeds through diversionary attacks. It would be extremely unfortunate if the Public Protector’s office contributed to the further contamination of a necessary discussion about the transformation of the financial sector.

Nevertheless the SACP wishes to reiterate its position that “the real issue with the Reserve Bank is its singular Constitutional mandate to ‘protect the value of the currency’. Even the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank has an employment preservation mandate in addition to its currency value responsibilities. Back in 1995 the SACP made this point to the Constitutional Assembly hearings. Unfortunately this was the hey-day of Chris Stals and of neo-liberal inflation-targeting dogma. While in recent years the Reserve Bank has applied its inflation targeting mandate with a degree of flexibility, it still remains locked into an inappropriate paradigm for the realities confronting our country” (SACP, 18 January 2017). The SACP believes that this, and the transformation of both the Reserve Bank and the financial sector as whole, must be achieved by constitutional means.    

Issued by Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo, National Spokesperson, SACP, 21 June 2017