Gordhan calls public protector subpoena ‘a misuse of public powers’

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has been subpoenaed to appear before Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane next week to answer questions regarding a 2010 pension payout.

Gordhan — who is expected to testify before the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture next week — is now under investigation for an early retirement package that he offered then South African Revenue Service deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay in 2010.

Speaking to SAFM on Thursday, Oupa Segalwe, the spokesperson for the public protector, said the probe “is not influenced by politics” nor “is it influenced by external events”.

Although the criminal charges of fraud against Gordhan were dropped by the National Prosecuting Authority in 2016, Segwale said the public protector is investigating maladministration.

According to Segwale, the reason for the delay in probing the pension payout was of a backlog of investigations that have been pending since 2012. 

In 2016, Oupa Magashula, Pravin Gordhan and Ivan Pillay were all charged with fraud in relation to the payout.

Charges of fraud were withdrawn against Gordhan in 2016 by then National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams. Gordhan had served as the commissioner of Sars between 1999 and 2009. Magashula was appointed as Sars commissioner in 2009, and Gordhan went on to serve as minister of finance.

According to the Business Day, Gordhan said the complaint against him was laid three weeks after charges were withdrawn. A former speechwriter for former president Jacob Zuma, Lebogang Hoveka, laid the complaint on November 18 2016.

Business Dayreported on Wednesday that Gordhan told deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo — chair of the inquiry into state capture — that he believed Mkhwebane’s investigation was a part of a “misuse and abuse of public powers for suspicious activities”.

Gordhan will appear before the commission on November 15.

In a press statement on Wednesday evening, the Economic Freedom Fighters called for Gordhan to explain whether he was an accomplice to the Gupta family’s activities. In his submission to the Zondo commission, Gordhan reportedly said he met with the Gupta brothers several times.

Over and above answering questions about his meetings with the Guptas, the EFF want Gordhan to explain how Pillay was appointed to Sars, the “establishment of a parallel intelligence” and tax evasion.

Gordhan’s spokesperson Adrian Lackay could not be reached for comment and the time of publishing.

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