Ramaphosa asks court to scrap Mkhwebane's Sars 'rogue unit' remedial action
Johannesburg – President Cyril Ramaphosa has asked the North Gauteng High Court to remove Public Protector advocate Busi Mkhwebane’s remedial action compelling him to rein in Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.
Mkhwebane ordered Ramaphosa to institute disciplinary action against Gordhan after she investigated the so-called SA Revenue Service (Sars) rogue unit as well as approving and granting former acting Sars commissioner Ivan Pillay early retirement with full pension benefits and subsequently retaining him. At the time Gordhan served as Finance Minister.
A full bench of the high court - which included judges Selby Baqwa, Leonie Windell and Annali Basson – heard arguments in Gordhan’s application to review and set aside Mkhwebane’s report, findings and the binding remedial action.
”We ask that words be excised from the PP’s remedial action,” said Ramaphosa’s legal representative, Matthew Chaskalson.
Mkhwebane’s remedial action also required Ramaphosa to take disciplinary steps against Gordhan for violating the executive ethics code and misleading the National Assembly by failing to disclose that he met a member of the controversial Gupta family, Ajay, in 2010.
Chaskalson told the virtual hearing on Thursday that the president was neutral in the matter and would not involve himself in the merits of Gordhan’s review application.
”The president will await the outcome of the review before deciding what action to take against Gordhan,” he said.
Chaskalson indicated that Ramaphosa now accepted that he has the power to discipline members of cabinet despite informing Mkhwebane last year that her remedial action was vague and impossible to implement as there was no employment relationship between him and Gordhan.