Gordhan hits back at allegations that he tried to influence Chief Justice Mogoeng
Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan has denied ever influencing Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng saying he respects his independence.
In a statement released promptly a day after revelations emerged that he had discussed judicial matters with Mogoeng including asking the Chief Justice about the performance of his friend, KZN Judge Dhaya Pillay on the JSC interviews, Gordhan said: "I have only ever engaged the Chief Justice in my official, professional capacity on several occasions, regarding matters such as:
“Recommendations of the Commission on the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers, at a time when the fiscus was constrained due to the impact of the global financial crisis; a courtesy, on the appointment of retired judges to perform certain functions (for example, on the appointment of retired Judge Ngoepe as the Tax Ombud); the separation of the budget of the judiciary from that of the Department of Justice."
According to Gordhan, Mogoeng agreed to meet him in Cape Town on April 6, 2016, to discuss the latter stating that this included National Treasury "seeking guidance on the practical implementation of “reasonable percentage” and “reasonable cost” for which the Constitutional Court had imposed a 60 day deadline."
He said Treasury officials had executed the directives of the Court and reported its determination of a personal tax liability (about R7.8 million) to the Court, as required.
On his friendship with Pillay, Gordhan stated: "Judge Pillay is a friend and comrade of long-standing. She was also the partner of the late Mr Yunus Mahomed (who passed away in 2008), a close comrade in the anti-apartheid struggle and with whom I worked in the formation of civics, in the UDF, and the ANC underground in the 1970s and 1980s."
He maintained that upon the completion of the cordial discussion on the matter for which the meeting in question was requested, he had, in fact, in passing referred to Pillay’s interview with the JSC and that Mogoeng responded and that he (Gordhan) later left.
"Although, like the CJ, I cannot recall the content of the meeting, I did not meet the Chief Justice to discuss Judge Pillay. The enquiry about Judge Pillay was purely incidental to the purpose of the meeting. In any event, as the Chief Justice himself indicated at the JSC, by the time I met him to discuss one or more of the matters outlined above “it was public knowledge that you (Judge Pillay) did not make it”.
Gordhan's letter was submitted to the JSC secretary.
Meanwhile, EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu said corruption is not just about the exchange of money, but that the abuse of those in positions of authority is forbidden.
He was speaking outside the Hillbrow police station in Joburg after laying corruption charges against Gordhan on Wednesday morning.
“We came as EFF leadership to open a case of corruption against Gordhan because he is trying to appoint his personal friend, violating section 3 of the prevention and combating of corruption activities act," he said.
He also said that he had reminded the SAPS that there was a pending case that EFF opened against Gordhan at the Brooklyn Police Station in Pretoria on money laundering, racketeering and corruption on alleged money movements which he said they had written to Financial Intelligence Centre and that the centre had come back to them to say that they have referred the case to the Hawka but have since not followed up in this regard.
“Our opening of this case is not just the end of what we are going to do, we are still going to write to the Public Protector because he tried to influence Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and misrepresented himself to say he is going there for official duties while going to influence the appointment of his personal friend. He also violated the executive ethics code,” said Shivambu.
Shivambu also said that the EFF would report Gordhan to the ethics committee in Parliament.
“There is a triple process that engaged in a police case, Public Protectors and Parliament inquiry so that he can be held accountable. We have been saying that Gordhan is up to no good, this is going to expose his shenanigans if police follow it thoroughly,” he said.
The office of the Chief Justice has not responded to IOL despite requests for comment.