Mkhwebane and Ramaphosa to square off in court over Gordhan

President Cyril Ramaphosa and Public Protector Busiswe Mkhwebane will square off in court on Thursday over whether he is obliged to act on her instruction to take action against Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan over an early retirement payout to former SARS deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay. 

Mkhwebane will oppose the president’s application for an interdict at the Palace of Justice in Pretoria. 

The matter relates to the report issued by the Public Protector in late May, which found that Gordhan was not authorised to approve the early retirement with full benefits of Pillay in 2010. Gordhan was finance minister at the time. After early retirement was granted, SARS re-appointed Pillay in the same position on a fixed-term contract. 

Gordhan has argued that the public protector was wrong in "fact and law". 

The matter to be argued in court on Thursday is separate from the Mkhwebane's report into a donation to Ramaphosa from scandal-plagued Bosasa and her findings on the so-called SARS 'rogue unit'. 

On Monday the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria set aside the implementation of her remedial order against Gordhan in the 'rogue unit' matter, pending the full review of her report. Judge Sulet Potterill referred to the public protector’s orders as “vague, contradictory and/or nonsensical’”.

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