President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Siyabulela Duda/GCIS
Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa is going into legal battle with Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane at the end of the month over his alleged failure to discipline Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan over a pension payout to a former Sars senior official.

Ramaphosa and Mkhwebane will face off on July 30 in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, where the court will be expected to rule whether his decision to suspend the disciplining of Gordhan was “rational”.

In May, Mkhwebane released a report in which she asked Ramaphosa to discipline Gordhan for allegedly allowing an early pension payout to Ivan Pillay in 2010.

Mkhwebane made that decision on May 24 - on the eve of Ramaphosa’s inauguration. Ramaphosa was given 30 days to act on her recommendations. The National Treasury was also instructed to recover the cash.

Ramaphosa failed to act on the recommendations, after Gordhan approached the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on an urgent basis asking for the report to be set aside.

In his court papers Gordhan argued that the payout was more than eight years ago, saying Mkhwebane did not have jurisdiction to investigate such cases which occurred more than two years ago.

Due to Gordhan’s review application - Ramaphosa wrote to Mkhwebane informing her about his decision not to implement her recommendation until the review application was concluded.

This aggrieved Mkhwebane - who wrote back to Ramaphosa accusing him of undermining the office of the public protector and the Constitution. The public protector insisted in their exchange of correspondence that her remedial action was binding, despite Gordhan’s review application bid.

The dispute between them prompted Ramaphosa to approach the high court on Monday on an urgent basis to rule on the early pension payout.

In one of her correspondences, Mkhwebane wrote: “The president’s refusal to act on my remedial action is a failure on the president’s part to uphold the Constitution.”

In one of his replies, Ramaphosa said: “I bring this application then, as a measure of last resort and on invitation from the public protectorThus, there is no controversy that arises in this application. It is not a political matter, but solely a legal one.”

The EFF and its leader Julius Malema have forged ties with Mkhwebane in their joint bid to ask the high court to interdict the public protector’s report on the existence of a “rogue unit” at Sars while Gordhan was commissioner.

Political Bureau