'Unpalatable' for key functionaries to fight in the courts: Cyril Ramaphosa to Public Protector

16 July 2019 - 09:26
By Karyn Maughan
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Image: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Sandile Ndlovu Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has gone to court in a bid to stay Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s order that he must take “appropriate disciplinary action” against public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan over the early retirement granted to ex Sars boss Ivan Pillay.

The president said in papers filed at the high court in Pretoria on Monday that Gordhan’s legal challenge to the first of two adverse reports made against him by Mkhwebane was not “frivolous”.

As such, he cannot make any decisions until after Gordhan's legal review of the public protector's report is finalised.

Ramaphosa is seeking an order stating that he complied with the Public Protector's remedial action by providing her with an implementation plan of action he would take, which she ordered him to provide. This comes after Mkhwebane accused him of failing to uphold the constitution - which he denies.

Ramaphosa said: “Issuing an application [in circumstances where I believe it is wholly unnecessary] to interdict the implementation of remedial action[s] of the Public Protector, will unfortunately feed into the unfounded narrative that the State (and its institutions) is at war with itself.”

“It is a constitutionally-unpalatable state of affairs to have the Public Protector, the Minister [and now, the President] being embroiled in litigation against each other.”

The PP report against Gordhan related to allegations of maladministration and impropriety in the approval of early retirement with full pension benefits of former Sars deputy commissioner Pillay. Mkhwebane found that Gordhan acted unlawfully and recommended that Ramaphosa discipline him.

Earlier this month, Ramaphosa's office said he had communicated with Mkhwebane's team that it would be premature for him to act prior to the conclusion of the high court application brought by Gordhan.

See today's Business Day for the full report.

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