Public Protector finds Gordhan guilty of maladministration in Pillay pension payout

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. (Reuters)

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. (Reuters)

The Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane has ordered President Cyril Ramaphosa to act against Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan for violating the Constitution.

This is in relation to the early retirement and pension payout granted to former South African Revenue Service (Sars) deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay during Gordhan’s tenure as finance minister.

The payout took place during Gordhan’s first term as finance minister, with Oupa Magashule at the helm of Sars at the time.

Mkhwebane’s report comes days before Ramaphosa is expected to announce his Cabinet, with the Economic Freedom Fighters in a statement urging him not to appoint Gordhan. 

Gordhan was charged by the National Prosecuting Authority in relation to the early retirement saga in 2016 during his second stint as finance minister at the height of his battle with former president Jacob Zuma but the charges were dropped less than a month later by then prosecutions boss Shaun Abrahams. 

Mkhwebane found that Gordhan had acted improperly in authorising the pension payout.

“The allegation that Gordhan irregularly approved the retirement of Mr Ivan Pillay with full retirement benefits and his subsequent retention at Sars is substantiated,” she said in a statement delivered at a media briefing on Friday.

Mkhwebane in her statement said Pillay had not requested the early retirement, nor did Magashule recommend it to Gordhan.

She said even if the retirement was contemplated, Gordhan was not authorised to approve it.

She said the payment amounted to irregular expenditure.

“There was no retirement in fact and in law. If there was no retirement in fact and in law, it can be concluded that Mr Pillay was not entitled to early retirement with full pension benefits under any statutory provision,” she said.

Natasha Marrian

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