Johannesburg - Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has until today to answer to allegations of his involvement in the establishment of a rogue unit at the SA Revenue Service (Sars).
Last week, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane ordered the minister to provide her with an affidavit on the allegations against him by 1pm today, following a complaint lodged by EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu last year.
Mkhwebane ordered Gordhan to provide an affidavit on the allegations, which were probed by the Nugent Commission.
Gordhan’s spokesperson Adrian Lackay last week said the same set of allegations had been investigated repeatedly by various institutions - including the Office of the Public Protector, in 2014.
“The latest subpoena was leaked to the media while we were in the process of consulting counsel to determine the most appropriate legal response to what clearly amounts to persistent harassment of Minister Gordhan and flagrant abuse of office,” Lackay said.
He added that the move was another example of a fightback campaign to disrupt efforts to uncover and prosecute instances of malfeasance and corruption in various entities of government.
“We must once again call on the public to connect a new set of dots and get an appreciation for the determined efforts to distract public attention from the broad attempts to ensure clean governance in our country,” Lackay added.
Yesterday, Gordhan’s office did not respond to queries on whether he would co-operate with the subpoena served on him by Mkhwebane last week.
This will be Gordhan’s second representation before her, following his appearance late last year.
In November, Mkhwebane told Gordhan to appear before her in connection with a R1.1 million early pension payout made to former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay in 2009.
In that meeting, insiders told Independent Media that Gordhan expressed his displeasure at being summoned by her.
It came soon after the former national director of public prosecutions, Shaun Abrahams, had decided to withdraw criminal charges against him, his successor Oupa Magashula and Pillay in October.
Gordhan apparently argued that a competent court had withdrawn the charges against him, saying the protector’s investigations were not necessary. But Mkhwebane had none of it.
Last month, she interviewed Magashula, Pillay and Vlok Symington on the pension payout. Her report on the pension matter was still pending.
While Gordhan was expected to give her an affidavit, Mkhwebane had already made attempts to secure an intelligence report which would assist her in the investigation.
She opened a criminal charge against State Security Minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba last month for allegedly refusing her access to the report, which was apparently produced by the former intelligence inspector-general, Faith Radebe, in October 2014.
Mkhwebane lodged the criminal investigations on March 12, alleging Letsatsi-Duba had, during their meeting on February 15, agreed to give him a declassified intelligence report on the rogue unit.
In her affidavit, she said she was surprised by media reports on March 10 stating that Letsatsi-Duba had opened a criminal case against her for being in possession of the report, which formed part of the investigations against Gordhan.
Mkhwebane asked the police to investigate Letsatsi-Duba for interfering in her work.
The allegations against Gordhan are not new. In June last year, the rogue unit matter surfaced during hearings of the Nugent Commission, which was charged with probing governance and administration at Sars while commissioner Tom Moyane was at the helm.
It was heard that Moyane was one of the main people alleging that Gordhan operated a rogue unit while Sars commissioner. Moyane did not give evidence before the commission but instead wanted to stall proceedings, which retired judge Robert Nugent rejected.
Evidence was submitted at the commission which disputed the existence of a rogue unit.
The commission also heard that Moyane’s own investigation in September 2015, commissioned by Wim Trengove SC, also found no existence of a rogue unit. This prompted Nugent to reject claims of its existence while Gordhan was at Sars between 1999 and 2007.