Here's what the Public Protector wants to know from Gordhan

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. (Photo: Gallo)
Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. (Photo: Gallo)

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has been subpoenaed by the Public Protector to submit an affidavit related to the so-called SARS 'rogue unit' – in a case dating back to his time as SARS Commissioner.

Gordhan’s role in the formation of an internal investigations unit has been dealt with extensively through various platforms, and the latest action has been described by his spokesperson Adrian Lackay as "abuse of [the] office" headed by Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Allegations relating to the 'rogue unit' were in 2014 investigated by the Public Protector, and in 2016, the Hawks sent Gordhan 27 questions. A 2018 report by the Nugent Commission of Inquiry into SARS found that the high-risk investigation unit was not unlawful.

The current subpoena, which Fin24 has seen, stems from a complaint lodged by Floyd Shivambu, Deputy President of the Economic Freedom Fighters, and other anonymous complainants.

The subpoena also touches on a range of other questions unrelated to the rogue unit, including a decision to pursue Julius Malema's tax investigation. Gordhan was SARS Commissioner between November 1999 and May 2009.

Below are some of the key complaints contained in the subpoena.

Rogue Unit violated intelligence laws

It is alleged that during his tenure as SARS boss, Gordhan established an intelligence unit in violation of South African prescripts, including Section 209 of the Constitution, which give powers for the establishment of any intelligence service.

No proper procedure

According to the complaint, SARS failed to follow proper recruitment processes in appointing employees who worked for the intelligence unit, and the tax authority irregularly procured intelligence equipment which was utilised for gathering information.

Malema tax pursuit

As finance minister, Gordhan in 2012 issued an instruction to pursue the tax affairs of EFF leader Julius Malema - without basis, according to the complainants.

Executive Ethics Code violation

Gordhan is said to have violated the executive ethics code by deliberately misleading the National Assembly when he failed to disclose that he had met with members of the Gupta family.

Irregular tender

SARS irregularly extended its IT tender for 12 years, the complainants argue, resulting in fruitless and wasteful expenditure that escalated to R8bn; and additionally acquired IT company Interfront for R72m, despite the company being valued at R2m.

Pillay's appointment

Former SARS deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay was appointed despite not having necessary qualifications for the job.

Gordhan received the subpoena on Wednesday and has been given until April 23 to submit his affidavit to the office of the Public Protector.

Lackay questioned the motive behind repeated investigations, despite an overwhelming body of evidence which has shown that there was nothing untoward about the rogue unit.

He said Gordhan would have between seven and 10 days to respond to the matter, given the upcoming holiday period.

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