PRETORIA, The High Court in Pretoria has set aside the remedial action proposed by the Public Protector (Ombudsman) to change the mandate of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) to focus on the socio-economoc well-being of citizens.

The Bank on Tuesday won its application to have the Public Protector's remedial action to change its constitutional mandate set aside. Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane was also ordered by the High Court to pay the legal costs.

Mkhwebane must pay costs for the application, up to and including the filing of her answering affidavit.

The judgment was delivered in the North Gauteng High Court by Justice Cynthia Pretorius following the SARB's application in August.

In June, Mkhwebane ordered Parliament to amend the Reserve Bank's mandate in the Constitution to focus on the socio-economic wellbeing of citizens.

Meanwhile, AfriBusiness, a lobby group for the Afrikaans business community, has welcomed the court ruling by the North Gauteng High Court here that the SARB will maintain its mandate of protecting the value of the Rand and focusing on economic growth.

Armand Greyling, a law and policy analyst at AfriBusiness, said the ruling would send a message to other government institutions not to interfere with the business of independent bodies. "The Public Protector has effectively been put in her place and this should serve as a warning to other public bodies who attempt to meddle in the affairs of independent institutions," Greyling said.

"We dare not find ourselves in a situation where a central bank can be commandeered and stripped of its independence and responsibilities to meet political agendas. We commend the Court's decision and the SARB for standing up to the Public Protector's incorrect application of the law."

Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago, earlier also welcomed the High Court ruling. "We welcome the judgment and I think we will let the judgment speak for itself. We have posted it [the judgment] on our website and I have nothing further to say, other than to say we welcome the judgement," Kganyago told journalists at the SARB headquarters in central Pretoria.


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