Private sector is ‘engineering the collapse’ of SA government, says Minister Ntshavheni

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Rand manipulation case shows the private sector wants to undermine the state, says minister in the presidency

Minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni claims the private sector has no interest in the development of the country.

During a post-cabinet briefing, Ntshavheni launched a blistering attack on the private sector, claiming it was “engineering the collapse” of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government.

Ntshavheni made the strong comments while responding to journalists’ questions on Monday about Standard Chartered Bank’s admission of liability in the Competition Commission’s case against 28 banks for alleged currency manipulation. She said it did not come as a surprise to the government, and claimed it was part of the private sector’s mission to undermine and collapse the state.

“We have maintained over the period that the performance of the rand and sometimes the performance of the economy has been manipulated by private sector, which has no interest in the development of this country‚ which continues to engineer and do machination to make sure the government collapses‚” Ntshavheni said in response to questions about government’s reaction to the development.

“That’s why they also feed in the narrative that there is a collapsing state‚ there is a collapsing economy because that’s what they wish [for] and their actions do that.”

Despite the efforts‚ the economy continues to be resilient‚ she said.

The Competition Commission announced last week that the UK-based multinational bank admitted its role in the manipulation of the dollar/rand currency rate by fixing bids‚ offers‚ bid-offer spreads‚ the spot exchange rate and the exchange rate at the FIX (Financial Information eXchange). The bank agreed to pay an administrative penalty of R42.7m .

Ntshavheni said in terms of the work being done by the commission‚ Standard Chartered had agreed to testify against other banks.

“Standard Chartered [is] going to form part of the witnesses in the prosecution so we can have recourse. People cannot be left untouched because they wanted to collapse this country‚ she said indicating the testimony provided would help guide what the consequences would be.

“That’s when we will deal with the consequences‚” said Ntshavheni. “We can’t pre-empt what those consequences will be but, based on the evidence that will be provided‚ the necessary consequences will be meted out.”

Last week, the commission said Standard Chartered also participated in dividing markets by allocating customers in terms of which a trader withholds or pulls his or her existing bid or offer from the market to allow another trader to execute and complete his or her trade‚ conduct that contravenes the Competition Act.

It said the settlement came at a time when respondent banks are appearing before the Competition Appeal Court seeking an order to set aside a Competition Tribunal order from March which ordered them to file answers to the complaint referral.

Standard Chartered is one of 28 banks being prosecuted by the commission for allegedly manipulating the dollar/rand rate.