Mkhwebane: Ramaphosa in serious breach of protocol as he sides with 'close friend' Gordhan - report

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Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Gallo Images / Daily Sun / Christopher Moagi)
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Gallo Images / Daily Sun / Christopher Moagi)

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane claims that President Cyril Ramaphosa has "taken sides" with Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, according to a report in Business Day.

In an affidavit to the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, Mkhwebane reportedly implied that Ramaphosa was unconstitutionally taking the side of his "close friend" by turning to the courts to suspend the implementation of her remedial actions against Gordhan.

The Public Protector's office has confirmed she filed an affidavit this week.

The Public Protector wants the president, National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise, State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, National Prosecuting Authority boss Shamila Batohi and national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole to take action against Gordhan for what she found to be his involvement in the establishment of a so-called "rogue unit" within the South African Revenue Services (SARS) in 2007.

Gordhan was SARS commissioner for eight years, between 2001 and 2009.

Mkhwebane's office also found that Gordhan lied to Parliament about whether he met members of the Gupta family in 2010.

The minister, in applying to the high court to have the remedial action and its enforcement suspended, has slammed the findings as reliant on "errors of law and fact" and unlawful.

'Ill-advised accusations'

"Once again, she has demonstrated that she is unfit to hold the Office of Public Protector," Gordhan says in his application.

He has also asked the court to review her report and its findings on him.

READ: Gordhan files review of 'dishonest, reckless' Mkhwebane’s 'rogue unit' report

On July 15, Mkhwebane filed an answering affidavit in which she described Gordhan's legal battle as "an unjustified attempt by an aggrieved party to avoid accountability for his unlawful conduct".

She slammed him for making "ill-advised accusations against the Office of the Public Protector", adding that these were "intended to provide a political basis (as opposed to a constitutional basis) for my removal".

On the same day, Ramaphosa filed an urgent application, asking the high court to declare he had complied with the Public Protector's remedial actions in line with her report into the early pension payout to Ivan Pillay, the former deputy SARS commissioner.

On July 17, Ramaphosa filed a supporting affidavit in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria relating to Gordhan's bid, Fin24 reported.

'A serious breach of protocol'

According to Business Day, Mkhwebane argues that Ramaphosa launched his application to stay the implementation of her order to take disciplinary action against Gordhan when he was "already aware" that she had made adverse findings against him in her Bosasa investigation.

"For the president to lend unqualified support to an application which hurls disrespectful and gratuitous insults at a Chapter 9 institution is not only regrettable, but a serious breach of protocol," Mkhwebane is quoted as saying in her latest affidavit.

She reportedly claims that Ramaphosa was effectively "supporting" and "associating himself" with Gordhan's application.

The public enterprises minister, in his founding affidavit filed earlier this month, said Mkhwebane had "wittingly or unwittingly" allowed her office to be "weaponised" against him.

"It is even clearer when one considers the two reports together that the Public Protector is seeking to achieve my removal of office as a member of the executive to achieve political objectives. This would only serve to facilitate the state capture project and activities," he told the court in his affidavit.

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