Mkhwebane believes court order in Gordhan legal battle undermines her office's work - report

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane (Andrew Mkhondo, file)
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane (Andrew Mkhondo, file)

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane believes that a High Court ruling suspending the implementation of remedial action against Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has stripped her office of power and undermined her work, according to a Business Day report.

In July, Gordhan was granted an interdict in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to suspend the remedial action ordered in the South African Revenue Service (SARS) so-called "rogue unit" report against him while he seeks a full judicial review.

Mkhwebane found that Gordhan had violated the Constitution and the Executives Ethics Code in a report that related, among other things, to the establishment of the "rogue unit" in 2007. Gordhan was the SARS commissioner at the time.

In her report, she recommended that President Cyril Ramaphosa should discipline Gordhan within 30 days. She also directed the police and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to consider criminal charges against him.

Important constitutional questions

In appeal papers, Mkhwebane said Judge Sulet Potterill's order had undermined her independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness, Business Day reported.

The order interfered with the functioning of the office and opened her to unprecedented attacks on an institutional and personal level, her lawyers reportedly argued.

Mkhwebane initially withdrew her application to the Constitutional Court to appeal the judgment against her in August, but Ramaphosa called on the court to hear it anyway, Fin24 reported.

Potterill had labelled her orders "vague, contradictory and/or nonsensical".

In an opposing affidavit, Ramaphosa said that while he believed the Public Protector's appeal had no reasonable prospects of success and fell outside of the Constitutional Court's jurisdiction, he also believed the issue at hand raised important constitutional questions that were in the country's interests.

It should not be up to an individual to decide on the matter, he argued.

"The attitude of the Public Protector should not affect the outcome of this application for leave to appeal," Ramaphosa said.

 - Compiled by Jenna Etheridge


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