Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

​Gordhan is not being harassed — Public Protector

In an unprecedented move Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has announced that she has issued a Section 7 (9) notice against Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.

In a nearly 5-minute YouTube video, Mkhwebane detailed at least four investigations against Gordhan, saying she issued the notice to him over a complaint that he lied to Parliament about whether or not he had visited the Guptas — thus allegedly breaching the Executive Members’ Ethics Code and issues around the “rogue unit”.

That section of the Public Protector’s Act states: “If it appears to the Public Protector during an investigation that any person is implicated, and that such implication may be to the detriment of that person or that an adverse finding may result, the Public Protector shall afford such a person an opportunity to respond.”

The minister has 10 days to respond.

The notices are confidential, with those who break the confidentiality clause opening themselves up to a fine or imprisonment.

In the video, Mkhwebane said she has not solicited complaints about Gordhan nor is he being harassed or targeted. “It needs to be clear to South Africans that I receive complaints. I don’t go around and ask people to complain. When I receive the complaints, I would have to approach the person complained against and receive their side of the story,” she said.

Last year, it emerged that Gordhan did not disclose in a 2016 parliamentary response to the Democratic Alliance that he had attended a meeting with Indian businessperson Anil Ambani in 2010. The meeting may or may not have been attended by a Gupta brother.

READ MORE: I would not lie about meeting Guptas — Gordhan

In November 2018, Gordhan testified before the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture — chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo — telling the commission that he intended to write to then Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete to clarify that he had no recollection of Gupta patriarch, Ajay, attending the meeting with Ambani.

At the time, Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) leader Julius Malema reportedly said the controversial Gupta family was central to Gordhan’s appointment as finance minister for the first time back in 2009. The party has been vocal in its criticism of Gordhan, particularly about his alleged connections to the controversial family. The Red Berets have previously lambasted Gordhan for allegedly lying in Parliament about meeting with the Guptas, saying Gordhan should “fall on his sword for lying”.

The party connected this alleged lie to the fate of Nhlanhla Nene, who resigned as finance minister in October 2018 after it emerged during the course of his testimony before the Zondo commission that he had met with the Guptas at their Saxonwold home four times between 2010 and 2013.

READ MORE: Nene met with the Guptas, but not for business

In a statement at the time of Gordhan’s testimony before the Zondo commission, the EFF decried the fact that Gordhan has been painted as an anti-graft champion, while according to the party, “he is part of the problem”.

In May, Mkwebane released a report related to the approval by Gordhan — who was finance minister at the time — of an early retirement for former South African Revenue Services (Sars) deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay on full benefits and for Sars to cover the cost of the resulting actuarial shortfall. Gordhan further approved a request to then keep Pillay on at Sars, but on a fixed-term contract.

Mkhwebane directed President Cyril Ramaphosa to take disciplinary action against Gordhan and for Sars to recover the shortfall money that was paid on Pillay’s behalf. On Wednesday last week, Gordhan challenged Mkhwebane’s findings in court filing papers on Wednesday saying her report, finding that he had acted unconstitutionally, was politically motivated and “riddled” with errors.

Pulling no punches, Gordhan said under oath: “I believe they show an emerging and consistent pattern of disregard for the constitutional mandate of the office of the public protector… and a stunning incompetence, irrationality and negligence on her part in the performance of her duties.”

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and receive a 40% discount on our annual rate..

Kiri Rupiah
Kiri Rupiah is the online editor at the Mail & Guardian.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

Seven years’ radio silence for taxpayer-funded Rhythm FM

Almost R50-million of taxpayers’ money has been invested but the station is yet to broadcast a single show

Q&A Sessions: Zanele Mbuyisa — For the love of people-centred...

She’s worked on one of the biggest class-action cases in South Africa and she’s taken on Uber: Zanele Mbuyisa speaks to Athandiwe Saba about advocating for the underrepresented, getting ‘old’ and transformation in the law fraternity

More top stories

Platinum records for South African mines

The miners are in a comfortable position as the world creeps towards a lower-carbon future

Denel money woes clip air force’s wings

A senior officer says the shortage of spares and and ability to service aircraft and vehicles has a negative effect on the SANDF’s operational ability

State fails at-risk children as R55m orphanage stands empty

Boikagong Centre in Mahikeng has been closed for almost two years because it did not meet safety requirements. The discarded children say they want a safe place to learn, but instead endure rape and other violence

Wildlife farming vs Creecy’s panel

The departments of environment and agriculture legislation are at odds over modifying the genes of wild animals
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×