President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA).
President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA).

Court rules in favour of Ramaphosa in Public Protector matter

By Zintle Mahlati and Brenda Masilela Time of article published Aug 8, 2019

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PRETORIA - The North Gauteng High Court has ruled that President Cyril Ramaphosa has complied with Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane's remedial action made against the Minister of Public Enterprise Pravin Gordhan by deferring disciplinary action pending judicial review.

Judge Letty Molopa-Sethosa delivered her judgment on Thursday and  stressed that in Ramaphosa seeking to wait for Gordhan's review application before taking disciplinary action against the minister, the president's decision was rational. 

The judge said it was "mind-boggling" that Mkhwebane would not consent to Ramaphosa's request to suspend the remedial action against Gordhan as similar cases had recently been heard and interdicts were approved. 

The court battle between the president and the public protector was heard last week on an urgent basis. 

In May, Mkhwebane released her report into her investigation into Gordhan’s handling of former deputy SARS commissioner Ivan Pillay’s early retirement. 

She had found that Gordhan acted unlawfully when he signed off on Pillay’s early retirement in 2010. He was the finance minister at the time. As part of her remedial action, Mkhwebane stated that Ramaphosa should take action against Gordhan for violating the constitution. 

Both Gordhan and Ramaphosa took issue with the report and its remedial action. Gordhan has filed papers to challenge the report and its findings. Ramaphosa brought the interdict on Thursday and largely argued that he sought the court stay the remedial action pending Gordhan’s review application. 

Advocate Dali Mpofu, who represented Mkhwebane, told the court that President Cyril Ramaphosa was allowing himself to be a proxy for Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan in applying to stay the disciplinary action recommended by Mkhwebane.  

Gordhan’s lawyer Advocate Michelle Le Roux argued similarly to Ramaphosa and said there was little the president could do to discipline Gordhan while the minister was legally challenging the report. 

The judge found that the EFF had been unreasonable in asking the court that Ramaphosa immediately implement Mkhwebane's remedial action. 

Mkhwebane and the EFF have been ordered to pay the legal costs for their failed court bid. 

Additional reporting by ANA

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