Ramaphosa hauls Public Protector to court over remedial actions

The apparent battle between President Cyril Ramaphosa and Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is now before a court of law.

The president filed urgent court papers on Monday seeking a declaratory order that he has complied with Mkhwebane’s remedial actions against Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, according to a Mail&Guardian report.

In her report issued in May, Mkhwebane found Gordhan guilty of maladministration for approving the early retirement and pension payout of former South African Revenue Service (SARS) deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay. Gordhan was Finance Minister at the time.

Mkhwebane directed the president to “take note” of the findings and institute disciplinary action against Gordhan.

It has emerged since then that the Public Protector is accusing the president of acting inconsistently with the Constitution by failing to discipline Gordhan, who has taken the report on court review.

No deadline, argues Ramaphosa

For his part, Ramaphosa argues that the report did not prescribe a deadline within which to act against Gordhan.

He further argues that he took note of the report and provided Mkhwebane with an “implementation plan” that involves waiting for the outcome of Gordhan’s court review.

It appears Mkhwebane is dissatisfied with the president’s approach. She has accused him of precipitating a “constitutional crisis” and of being “contemptuous” of her office.

This tense state of affairs has apparently compelled the president to approach the court to adjudicate the matter.

In an affidavit, Ramaphosa says it’s “unfortunate” that he was compelled to file the application. He added:

It is a constitutionally unpalatable state of affairs to have the Public Protector, the Minister (and the President) being embroiled in litigation against each other.

President Cyril Ramaphosa

The president further accuses Mkhwebane of “dictating and badgering” him into taking an action that could be “irrational” in light of the pending court review.

He also says Mkhwebane is attempting to revise her report by setting a date by which Ramaphosa should implement the remedial actions.

In a letter to Ramaphosa, Mkhwebane had suggested July 12, a date that was not stipulated in the report.

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