South African minister Pravin Gordhan won a bid to avoid imminent disciplinary action on Monday after a court suspended orders from the public protector, in a relief for ally President Cyril Ramaphosa. The ruling is the second time in around a week that Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has lost a high-profile case in court, potentially undermining the credibility of her investigations, which include one into Ramaphosa himself. Mkhwebane, who investigates alleged wrongdoing by state officials, instructed Ramaphosa to take “appropriate disciplinary action” against Gordhan this month after finding that Gordhan had violated the constitution and an executive ethics code. He has denied any wrongdoing. She had also instructed the country’s chief prosecutor and speaker of parliament to investigate Gordhan’s actions before Monday’s ruling. Public Enterprises Minister Gordhan, who oversees efforts to fix struggling companies such as state power utility Eskom, applied for an urgent ruling to prevent all of these actions being taken against him while he sought a separate ruling setting aside the public protector’s findings. “Gordhan will, if the suspension if not granted and the review is subsequently upheld, be seriously prejudiced,” High Court Judge Sulet Potterill said. “It defies all logic to proceed with the execution of the remedial action when the report that is the basis for the remedial action is the subject of judicial review.” “NONSENSICAL” The public protector’s spokesman, Oupa Segalwe, said Monday’s judgment was disappointing and that Mkhwebane would study it before “mapping the way forward”. The radical opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has made another adverse finding against Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, this time in relation to the establishment of the so-called “rogue unit” at the South African Revenue Service (SARS) in 2007. At the time, Gordhan was the commissioner of SARS. He was appointed as minister of finance in 2009. Mkhwebane released her report on the “rogue unit” on Friday during a press briefing at her offices in Pretoria. She told journalists she had divided her Gordhan probe into parts to deal with the various allegations: That Gordhan lied to Parliament by not disclosing his meeting with a member of the Gupta family;That SARS established an unlawful intelligence unit (the so-called “rogue unit”);That this unit allegedly obtained illegal equipment to conduct intelligence operations Findings On the first count, Mkhwebane said Gordhan had failed to remember anything that happened during the supposed meeting, and she thought this was implausible. On the SARS rogue unit issue, she found that former SARS commissioner Oupa Magashula had lied under oath during his interview with her by saying no such intelligence unit existed. The unit was established without involving the State Security Agency (SSA). Under former finance minister Trevor Manuel, SARS had already begun operating the unit and Gordhan should have been aware of this, she said. The commissioner of SARS is the accounting officer and was therefore accountable. On the alleged possession of intelligence equipment, evidence in her possession confirmed its existence. “If SARS’ operations were lawful, it is unclear
South African Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Sunday that efforts to clean up corruption in state-owned companies (SOCs) faced “dangerous” resistance which threatened the country’s sovereignty.
“But the dangerous and unscrupulous fightback against our reform efforts continues. If we allow this fightback to prevail, we risk losing our sovereignty,” Gordhan said, without naming who was behind the backlash.