Pravin Gordhan, Public Protector to face off in court over damning report
Pretoria - Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan and the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane will face off at the North Gauteng High Court on Tuesday over her report on the South African Revenue Service (SARS) so-called rogue unit.
Gordhan lodged an urgent application to suspend and interdict the remedial orders by the Public Protector, citing "improper motives" on her part.
He has denied that there was anything rogue about the intelligence unit which probed tax evasion.
Mkhwebane recently made devastating findings against Gordhan in relation to his role in the establishment of a so-called rogue spying unit at SARS. She found that the establishment of the unit was unlawful and that Gordhan, who was SARS commissioner at the time, had violated the Constitution.
She also found that the unit had conducted irregular and unlawful intelligence operations and that SARS failed to follow procurement rules when it bought spying equipment.
In her report, 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 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 to 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.
Gordhan went further still, accusing Mkhwebane of, wittingly or unwittingly, advancing the interests of political foes of president Cyril Ramaphosa's political renewal project, designed to break the corruption that came to define former president Jacob 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".
The matter will be heard a day after Mkhwebane endured a scathing assessment of her report on the SA Reserve Bank at the Constitutional Court, which found that she had lied and used false documents to advance her cause in her investigation into the Reserve Bank’s apartheid-era Bankorp bailout, and will have to pay part of the costs of the matter out of her own pocket.
African News Agency (ANA)