President Cyril Ramaphosa has filed a supporting affidavit in relation to Pravin Gordhan’s court application to suspend the enforcement of remedial action by the Public Protector.
The Minister of Public Enterprises lodged an urgent application to suspend and interdict enforcement of the remedial orders by Busisiwe Mkhwebane over the so-called ‘rogue unit’ during his tenure as Commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (SARS), as well as his alleged violation of the Executive Ethics Code.
Minister Gordhan asked the North Gauteng High Court to suspend Mkhwebane’s directive pending a review by the same court of the public protector’s investigation into and report on the SARS matter.
In an affidavit, also filed with the North Gauteng High Court, Ramaphosa indicated his support for Gordhan’s application.
In his submission, Ramaphosa notes that Gordhan urged the Court to interdict the Public Protector from enforcing the yet unspecified remedial action laid out in her report.
Gordhan contends that the ‘remedial action’ should be suspended pending a determination of the North Gauteng High Court review of the Public Protector’s report.
President Ramaphosa says in his submission that it’s clear from Gordhan’s review application that there is a “bona fide justiciable dispute between Gordhan and Mkhwebane over the legal validity of the Public Protector’s investigations and findings, and the remedial action she has directed in her report.”
Gordhan takes further issue with the tacit assumption of the Public Protector that the president has legal powers “to take appropriate disciplinary action” against the minister; when the minister is not appointed to the Cabinet as an employee who is subject to disciplinary action but rather as a Minister who serves at the pleasure of the President.
The President argues that any “appropriate disciplinary action” he may take against Gordhan would need to be informed by whether the investigation and findings of the Public Protector are legally valid, and whether the president has, if any, ‘disciplinary’ powers over members of the Cabinet.
Ramaphosa said under these circumstances, it would be premature for him to attempt to take “appropriate disciplinary action” against Gordhan while the principal review application is still pending.
He added that the disputes over the validity of the investigation into, and findings against, Gordhan and the extent, if any, of the President’s “disciplinary” powers over the minister remain unresolved.
“President Ramaphosa therefore supports Minister Gordhan’s application that remedial action be suspended pending the principal review,” a statement from the presidency said.