Mkhwebane vs Gordhan – the battle continues

Showdown between Gordhan and Mkhwebane heats up. Picture: Gallo Images
Showdown between Gordhan and Mkhwebane heats up. Picture: Gallo Images

The battle between Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan seems to be heating up, with former SA Revenue Services (Sars) deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay and President Cyril Ramaphosa also filing court papers.

Pillay has submitted court papers in support of Gordhan’s submissions.

“Our client is not opposing the applications, but instead is supporting them. He sets out his reasons in his answering affidavit served on all parties in brief terms,” Werksmans Attorneys’ Bernard Hotz said in a statement on Monday.

Gordhan lodged an urgent application to suspend and interdict the enforcement of the remedial orders contained in Mkhwebane’s report and to have it reviewed. The report states that Gordhan violated the executive ethics code during his tenure as finance minister.

In the affidavit, Pillay states that he fully supports the issues raised in Gordhan’s affidavit.

“I associate myself fully to the contentions raised with the various contentions of the law and fact raised by Gordhan in his founding affidavit,” Pillay stated.

He also raised additional points including the Public Protector’s lack of regard for two affidavits he submitted, her use of the Sikhakhane report as a point of reference for investigations and her inability to record facts accurately.

Ramaphosa is seeking an urgent order to show that he complied with the Public Protector’s remedial actions by providing her with an implementation plan of action.

“Issuing an application [in circumstances where I believe it is wholly unnecessary] to interdict the implementation of remedial action[s] of the Public Protector will unfortunately feed into the unfounded narrative that the state, and its institutions, is at war with itself,” said the president in papers filed at the Pretoria High Court.

“It is a constitutionally unpalatable state of affairs to have the Public Protector, the minister [and now the president] being embroiled in litigation against each other.”

Mkhwebane’s damning report found that Gordhan violated the Constitution by approving the establishment of an intelligence unit at Sars, adding that only the president had the constitutional mandate to do so.

She also found that Gordhan’s alleged approval of Pillay’s early retirement was in violation the Constitution. The Public Protector believes there was never any intention for Pillay to resign because he was rehired by Sars on a contract basis just a day after his retirement.

In her remedial action, Mkhwebane gave Ramaphosa 30 days to take disciplinary measures against Gordhan, while National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise was given 14 working days to refer him to the joint committee on ethics and members’ interests.

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