Premature to discipline Gordhan now, Ramaphosa tells Mkhwebane

01 July 2019 - 17:56
Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan has brought a high court application seeking a review of the public protector's report.
Image: Trevor Samson Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan has brought a high court application seeking a review of the public protector's report.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has told public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane that it is premature for him to take disciplinary action against public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan. 

According to a statement by the presidency on Monday, Ramaphosa has written to Mkhwebane informing her that he will wait for the finalisation of a high court application brought by Gordhan seeking a review of her report before implementing her recommended remedial action.  

And this, said the statement by Ramaphosa's spokeswoman Khusela Diko, was done within the stipulated 30-day period following the issuing of the Mkhwebane report.

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The report against Gordhan related to allegations of maladministration and impropriety in the approval of former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay's early retirement with full pension benefits and subsequent retention at the tax collector.

Mkhwebane had found that Gordhan acted unlawfully and recommended that Ramaphosa discipline him.

Ramaphosa, in his response to Mkhwebane, maintained that "no deadline was given by when such 'appropriate disciplinary action' should be taken".

Diko said Ramaphosa had complied with Mkhwebane's report, albeit not to the letter owing to the pending conclusion of the high court application brought by Gordhan. 

"The president explained that there was a dispute pending before the high court over the legality of the findings on which to base the recommended disciplinary action. Furthermore, this dispute legally challenged the president’s alleged power to exercise such disciplinary action," said Diko.

"In the event, the president submitted to the public protector that the process of taking appropriate disciplinary action against Minister Gordhan would best be served by waiting until the legal processes of his review proceedings were concluded.

"The president therefore indicated to the public protector his intention to defer his decision on what disciplinary action if any to take against minister Gordhan until final determination of the minister’s review application," Diko said.

"President Ramaphosa said that having considered the public protector’s findings against minister Gordhan as well as the minister’s challenges to those findings in his review application, it would be inappropriate to take disciplinary action against minister Gordhan at this point."