Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhweban. Picture: ANA
Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhweban. Picture: ANA

Mkhwebane, EFF and Gordhan take fight over Sars 'rogue unit' to Concourt

By LOYISO SIDIMBA Time of article published Nov 28, 2019

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Johannesburg - Public Protector Busi Mkhwebane and the EFF will square off with Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan at the Constitutional Court today over the so-called SA Revenue Service (Sars) rogue unit.

Mkhwebane and the EFF are appealing the North Gauteng High Court judgment interdicting the implementation of the Public Protector’s remedial action, which ordered President Ramaphosa to take action against Gordhan for his involvement in the establishment of the unit when he was Sars commissioner.

Mkhwebane’s report also found that Gordhan dishonestly concealed the fact that he met one of the Gupta brothers but Gordhan maintains that he did not willfully mislead the National Assembly.

In court papers, Gordhan describes EFF leader Julius Malema’s claim that the unit spied on citizens as unfounded.

”There is in any event no evidence that Gordhan approved the establishment of the unit for such purpose or knew that it would engage in unlawful activities of this kind,” he insisted.

Gordhan said Mkhwebane’s finding that the establishment of the unit was unlawful was entirely baseless and irrational.

The minister maintains that Mkhwebane had no lawful, rational or factual basis on which to exercise jurisdiction over the complaints, which is a fatal flaw in her report, which was released in ...

”The law enabled, and, indeed required, Sars to establish an investigative unit to investigate economic crime with tax implications. There is no basis, in fact or law, for the Public Protector’s finding to the contrary,” read Gordhan’s papers filed last month.

According to Gordhan, during his tenure as Sars commissioner he authorised the unit’s establishment in 2007 to crack down on crime generally and on organised crime in particular after formal discussions with the then National Intelligence Agency, which later lost appetite for the project.

He accused Mkhwebane of making bizarre and incoherent remedial action in her investigation of the so-called rogue unit.

Gordhan insists that Mkhwebane should not have entertained a complaint more than two years after the event except in special circumstances and that that all the complaints against him are more than two years old and the Sars rogue unit was more than a decade old.

The EFF wants the high court order set aside as it was too easily granted and irretrievably undermines the accessibility and effectiveness of Mkhwebane’s office.

”Granting an interim interdict on his unexceptional case defeats the purpose of the Public Protector as an accessible and effective ‘crusader and champion’ of the ‘average citizen’,” reads the party’s submissions to the apex court.

The party claims Gordhan’s was a knee-jerk presumption that the implementation of Mkhwebane’s report’s remedial action would cause him irreparable harm.

Mkhwebane has told the court that Gordhan failed to establish a clear right to prevent immediate implementation of her remedial action. The Public Protector is also unhappy with Gordhan insulting herby making defamatory allegations against her, which she says are not protecting her office’s independence, effectiveness and dignity as required by the Constitution.

Gordhan has launched a high court review of Mkhwebane’s report.

Political Bureau

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