Ramaphosa may not be empowered to discipline Gordhan, lawyer tells court
President Cyril Ramaphosa said remedial action proposed by the public protector that he take disciplinary action against public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan should happen only after a review application by Gordhan is complete.
The president's counsel, Matthew Chaskalson, was in the Pretoria high court on Tuesday to support a bid by Gordhan to suspend Busisiwe Mkhwebane's remedial action outlined in her report on the SA Revenue Service (Sars) "rogue unit" - pending a judicial review of that report.
Mkhwebane found, in a report earlier this month, that the establishment of the unit, approved by Gordhan when he was finance minister, was in violation of the constitution.
Chaskalson told judge Sulet Potterill that the attitude of the president was that he should be involved in the matter following the adjudication of the dispute between Gordhan and Mkhwebane.
Madiba Street in front of the North Gauteng High Court in the Pretoria CBD has been temporarily closed for traffic due to dozens of protesters singing and chanting in front of the court. The two groups are protesting in support of public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane as the court is hearing an urgent application by public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan, who's challenging the implementation of Mkhwebane's remedial actions against him.
"The legality of the public protector's findings is subject to a challenge by the minister. There is a serious dispute about the legality of the public protector's findings," Chaskalson said.
He said the public protector seemed, in her remedial action, to assume that the president had similar disciplinary powers over Gordhan that an employer had over an employee.
Chaskalson said Gordhan was not an employee in the ordinary sense as he was there to serve at the behest of the president.
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"It may be that the president has no power to take disciplinary action against the minister. If that is the case, then the remedial action to take disciplinary action against the minister may well constitute a power that the president does not have," said Chaskalson.
Chaskalson said the decisions that the president needed to take were best taken at the end of the review application.
"This is the position of the president in this interim application," Chaskalson said.
The hearing continues.