Gordhan welcomes Mkhwebane court ruling, but 'doubts her competence'

29 July 2019 - 18:52 By Nomahlubi Jordaan
Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan.
Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan.

Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan's legal team said it welcomed the Pretoria High Court ruling suspending public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's remedial action against its client.

"On behalf of our client, Minister Pravin Gordhan, we welcome the judgment today [Monday] by the High Court, Gauteng Division, Pretoria, and its important affirmation of our client’s rights to procedural fairness," said Gordhan's attorney, Tebogo Malatji.

On Monday, the court interdicted Mkhwebane from enforcing remedial action against Gordhan, following her report on the SA Revenue Service’s [Sars] so-called rogue unit.

The court found that the public protector’s office would not suffer any harm if the interdict was granted, but that Gordhan would.

Gordhan lodged the urgent application with the court to have the remedial action suspended pending the outcome of a review of Mkhwebane’s report.

His application was supported by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

"Our client maintains that he has great respect for the office of the PP. However, he doubts the competence, integrity, legal literacy and constitutional grasp of its incumbent, of her powers, duties and functions," said Malatji.

He said the judgment confirmed that Mkhwebane failed to explain on what basis she exercised jurisdiction over complaints against Gordhan going back as far as 2007 and "what ‘special circumstances’ she relied on – a requirement of the PP Act – to entertain complaints about events that occurred more than two years ago".

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"This judgment confirms the need for the expeditious determination of the main review application. The judgment confirms that a review of the PP’s report is no more than a constitutional entitlement that all South Africans enjoy, including minister Gordhan. It is precisely so because the office of the PP is a constitutional institution under the rule of law. The office of the PP ought to await the outcome of court review applications and must welcome the court’s scrutiny of its work," said Malatji.