Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: GCIS.

PRETORIA - Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan on Wednesday denied there was anything rogue about intelligence unit to investigate tax evasion.

Gordhan lodged an urgent application to suspend and interdict the remedial orders by the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, citing "improper motives" on her part.

Mkhwebane recently made devastating findings against Gordhan for his role in the establishment of a so-called rogue spying unit at the SA Revenue Service (SARS).

In her report, released at a media briefing in Pretoria last week, Mkhwebane directed Ramaphosa to "take note of the findings in this report in so far as they related to the erstwhile minister of finance Mr Gordhan and to take appropriate action against him for his violation of the Constitution and the Executive Ethics Code within 30 days of issuing this report".

But Gordhan, through his legal team, hit back and on Wednesday asked the high court to declare that the Public Protector’s remedial orders are suspended, until the judicial review of the report is concluded. 

He also asked that the court interdict the Office of the Public Protector (first respondent) and Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane (second respondent) from enforcing the remedial orders until a judicial review of the report is concluded.

"Whilst I have great respect for the Office of the Public Protector I doubt the competence, integrity, legal literacy and constitutional grasp of its incumbent of her powers, duties and functions," Gordhan said.

"Whilst it is unfortunate that these sentiments must be expressed, I maintain that the suspension and interdict will be in the overall interests of justice because I strongly doubt the bona fides of the Public Protector in investigating and issuing the report."

Gordhan went further still, accusing Mkhwebane of, wittingly or unwittingly, advancing the interests of political foes of Ramaphosa's political renewal project, designed to break with the corruption that came to define the Zuma administration.

The renewal drive, he said, was opposed by those whom it frustrated in their continued quest to loot state resources, as they had during the state capture scandal.

He reiterated that SARS had the legal right to establish an intelligence unit to investigate tax evasion, saying emphatically "there was nothing rogue about it".

Yet, the minister continues, a discredited narrative that he acted improperly is being regurgitated at the behest of, amongst others, the Economic Freedom Fighters.

"This track record - of the EFF repeating baseless allegations against me in umpteen forums -  demonstrate a political motive to the complaint," he said in his affidavit.

Mkhwebane, the minister adds, has failed to interrogate the EFF's motive.

"This is the result of incompetence, bias, or both," he concludes.

Gordhan then adds: "It appears that the Public Protector, wittingly or unwittingly, has permitted her office and its extensive powers, to be weaponised in this political war 'against unity and renewal'."

African News Agency (ANA)