Gordhan vs Mkhwebane: Parliament will not take action against Gordhan yet

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

Parliament will abide by the Gauteng High Court's ruling to suspend Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's remedial action against Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan pending a full review of her SARS report.

At the same time, the Legal Practice Council (LPC) says discussions are underway over Mkhwebane's fate as an advocate.

On Monday, Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said it would comply.

"In her remedial actions, the Public Protector directed the speaker to, within 14 working days of receipt of her report, refer Mr Gordhan to the joint committee on ethics and members' interests.

"The court today ruled that the remedial action should be suspended, while Mr Gordhan seeks a full judicial review of the Public Protector’s report on the South African Revenue Services Investigative Unit," the statement read.

Last Tuesday, Gordhan applied for an urgent interdict to suspend the remedial action in the SARS so-called rogue unit report against him while he seeks a full judicial review.

In her judgment, Judge Sulet Potterill established that Gordhan had a prima facie right for the remedial orders to be suspended, pending a court review of the report.

Earlier this month, Mkhwebane found the establishment of the unit in 2007 was illegal and that it had conducted unlawful intelligence while Gordhan was the tax agency's commissioner at the time, Fin24 reported.

Gordhan's legal team argued he would continue to "suffer baseless, but engineered, reputational damage" if the remedial action was not suspended, pending a full review of the report.

He further advanced that the SARS unit was legally established and the appointment of former deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay without any qualifications was justified as he had spent his formative years fighting in the anti-apartheid struggle.

In the statement from Parliament, Mothapo continued that "the speaker of the National Assembly, who was cited as the fourth respondent in today’s matter, had filed a notice to abide".

Mkhwebane's fate as advocate

On Monday, LPC chairperson Hlaleleni Dlepu said its exco had met on Friday to discuss, among other things, the complaint from civil society organisation Accountability Now that Mkhwebane be struck from the roll.

"The complaint was sent to the relevant provincial office for processing, like all other complaints received by [the] council. While the complaint is being processed, the LPC is prohibited by the Legal Practice Act from discussing the matter."

Accountability Now wrote to the LPC following the Constitutional Court judgment that found Mkhwebane had acted in bad faith and put forward a "number of falsehoods" in her Absa/Bankorp report court case.

The majority judgment further ruled that the ConCourt had found Mkhwebane's "entire model of investigation was flawed" and she was not honest about her engagements during the investigation.

If the complaint is upheld, Mkhwebane does not necessarily cease being Public Protector because her ability to occupy the office still needs to go through a process of Parliament.

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