Ramaphosa beats Mkhwebane in court battle over Gordhan disciplinary action

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Image: SUPPLIED

President Cyril Ramaphosa has won his fight against public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

The North Gauteng High Court on Thursday ruled that the president complied with the remedial action prescribed in her report on minister Pravin Gordhan.

Judge Lettie Molopa-Sethosa, in delivering her judgment, said it was “mind-boggling” that Mkhwebane opposed Ramaphosa’s further application that there must be a stay in the implementation of the remedial action against Gordhan pending the outcome of Gordhan’s review application of the report.

“It is declared that the president of the Republic of South Africa has complied with the remedial action of the public protector,” she ruled.

Mkhwebane recommended that Ramaphosa take disciplinary action against Gordhan for his role in granting early retirement to former SARS deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay.

Ramaphosa wrote to Mkhwebane saying he noted her report and said he wanted to wait for Gordhan’s judicial review of the report before he took action.

Mkhwebane argued that Ramaphosa did not comply with the remedial action and was trying to protect his friend, Gordhan.

Inside the Palace of Justice, where judgment has been handed down in favour of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s application for a stay in implementing remedial action against public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan.
Inside the Palace of Justice, where judgment has been handed down in favour of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s application for a stay in implementing remedial action against public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan.
Image: Qaanitah Hunter/Sunday Times

Molopa-Sethosa said she was satisfied with Ramaphosa’s argument that he had implemented the remedial action because Mkhwebane did not state a time frame in her report.

“The president has complied with the remedial action and as indicated, he has acknowledged and accepted and he accepts, correctly so, the remedial action is binding on him,” she said.

The judge added that the president was not challenging Mkhwebane's factual findings in her report on Gordhan.

“All he is saying is, 'Let me wait for the review.' To me it is rational and reasonable,” Molopa-Sethosa said.

She further squashed Mkhwebane’s argument that Ramaphosa was protecting his friend.

“As president of all in the country, not a friend… he is obliged by the constitution he has to act rationally and reasonably,” the judge said.

Molopa-Sethosa further said it was “not understandable” why Mkhwebane was opposing a stay in the remedial action pending a finalisation of Gordhan’s review application.

The judge said there was no consistency in how Mkhwebane opposed similar applications.

In her judgment, Molopa-Sethosa took it further, adding that: “The EFF was being unreasonable in demanding that the president must take disciplinary action immediately without taking regard of the pending review application."

The court has found Mkhwebane and the EFF liable for the costs of this case of the president and Gordhan.

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