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Zuma pledges to protect central bank's independence

Cape Town, Nov 19 (IANS) Amid growing calls to nationalise the central bank, President Jacob Zuma has pledged to protect the independence of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB).

South Africa will continue to support institutions that strengthen its democracy and its economy as part of creating the right environment for economic growth and development, Zuma said in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal Province, on Saturday as he opened a “One Stop Shop” designed to improve the ease of doing business and lowering its cost.

“In this regard, we value the work that is done by the South African Reserve Bank and we will continue to protect its independence,” Xinhua news agency quoted Zuma as saying.

The SARB is currently embroiled in a heated debate over its role in the economic development as South Africa’s economy has been performing poorly, particularly since the beginning of this year.

A proposal was raised at a policy conference of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in Johannesburg in July that the SARB be nationalised so as to ensure that the bank focuses on growth and not just inflation and the currency.

The bank has been accused of being too beholden to the interests of finance capital while neglecting the broader economy.

The SARB has been privately owned since its establishment in 1921 with formulating and implementing monetary policy as one of its main functions.

Zuma stood up for the bank amid speculations that the ANC will continue to debate the fate of the SARB at its Elective Conference in December when his successor will be chosen.

He linked the SARB to the Chapter 9 institutions established to promote clean governance.

“We value our Chapter 9 institutions and also those we established to promote clean governance such as the Public Service Commission and the Special Investigation Unit which help us to fight corruption and maladministration in the public sector,” Zuma said.

Chapter 9 institutions refer to a group of organisations established in terms of Chapter 9 of the South African Constitution to guard democracy.

Zuma said all these institutions form part of the package of promoting economic growth in an environment in which there is sound economic and political management.

“We are doing this not only for investors but also for our people, because they deserve good governance and effective service delivery.”

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