Ramaphosa to mull Public Protector finding on Gigaba

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President Cyril Ramaphosa (File, Jaco Marais, Netwerk24)
President Cyril Ramaphosa (File, Jaco Marais, Netwerk24)

President Cyril Ramaphosa will study Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's report recommending disciplinary action against Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba before announcing what steps he will take, his spokesperson said on Thursday.

"He has to study the report first," said Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko, when asked how Ramaphosa would handle the finding. 

"Then he will apply his mind."

Ramaphosa has been giving the matter "due and proper consideration" since February.

On Wednesday, Mkhwebane announced that her investigation found that Gigaba violated the Constitution, the Executive Ethics Code and the Code of Ethical Conduct and Disclosure of Members Interests for Assembly and Permanent Council members. 

READ: Public Protector finds Gigaba violated the ethics code over the Fireblade saga 

This followed a complaint laid with her office by DA chief whip John Steenhuisen on February 21, 2018.

It was over a court judgment against Gigaba over permission for Fireblade Aviation to operate a private terminal at OR Tambo International Airport.

Quoting the judgment in the North Gauteng High Court to explain the background, Mkhwebane said Fireblade required permission from many organs of state, including the minister of Home Affairs, for its application to succeed. Gigaba was in the position at the time.

On January 28, 2016, at a meeting between company and Home Affairs representatives, Fireblade said Gigaba announced he had decided to approve the application, and that he had already signed a letter granting permission. 

Fireblade took Gigaba to court after battling to enforce his decision.

In October 2017, the company, owned by the Oppenheimer family, was granted permission to operate a private VIP terminal at OR Tambo International Airport, after a ruling by North Gauteng High Court Judge Sulet Poterrill to settle the matter.

The Home Affairs Department appealed the judgment in the High Court, on the grounds that Gigaba suspended approval. But this was dismissed by Judge Neil Tuchten on February 21 2018 when Gigaba was finance minister.

In an affidavit in that application Gigaba denied giving approval.

Gigaba's version rejected

In the ruling, Tuchten noted that Potterill rejected Gigaba's version. Of this, Tuchten said: "The conclusion that the rejection of the minister's version must carry with it the conclusion that the minister has deliberately told untruths under oath."

In her findings, Mkhwebane noted that Gigaba had attempted to appeal this in the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal, but was not successful.

He told her he still believed he could offer further information to clear the matter up, but she said that court judgments stand unless overturned on appeal.

She set timelines for the president to send the report to the Speaker of Parliament, and for them to report back to her.

Meanwhile, Fin24 reported on Tuesday that Fireblade Aviation's Nicky Oppenheimer told Parliament's portfolio committee on home affairs that, while it had no written approval from Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba to set up the company's air traffic facility, it did have minutes to the meeting where Gigaba told the company that he would approve the facility.

Parliament also heard that there were other agreements which were not put in writing. 

Committee chairperson Hlomane Chauke asked Fireblade to supply those minutes and supporting documents by Friday.

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