President Cyril Ramaphosa has complied with Public Protector Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s recommendations regarding an investigation into Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan.
On 19 June 2019 President Ramaphosa submitted a written response to the Public Protector in answer to a report – released on 24 May 2019 – relating to the “Investigation into Allegations of Maladministration and Impropriety in the Approval of Mr Ivan Pillay’s Early Retirement with Full Pension Benefits and Subsequent Retention by the South African Revenue Services”.
In his response – which was filed within the period of 30 days set by the Public Protector – President Ramaphosa set out his compliance with the recommendations.
The Public Protector had directed the President to take note of the findings in the report insofar as they relate to Minister Gordhan and to take appropriate disciplinary action against the Minister. No deadline was given by when such “appropriate disciplinary action” should be taken.
The Public Protector had also directed the President to submit, within 30 days, an implementation plan indicating how the President would implement the recommended remedial action.
In his response of 19 June 2019, President Ramaphosa explicitly stated that this written response was in compliance with the Public Protector’s directive for the President to submit an implementation plan within 30 days.
Setting out the implementation plan, President Ramaphosa assured the Public Protector that he had, as directed, taken note of the findings against Minister Gordhan.
At the same time, the President drew the Public Protector’s attention to the fact that Minister Gordhan had brought a High Court application on 28 May 2019 – four days after the Public Protector had released Report No 24 of 2019/20 – in which the Minister is currently seeking an order reviewing and setting aside the findings and recommendations contained in the report.
President Ramaphosa said that having considered the Public Protector’s findings against Minister Gordhan as well as the Minister’s challenges to those findings in his review application, it would be inappropriate to take disciplinary action against Minister Gordhan at this point.
The President explained that there was a dispute pending before the High Court over the legality of the findings on which to base the recommended disciplinary action. Furthermore, this dispute legally challenged the President’s alleged power to exercise such disciplinary action.
In the event, the President submitted to the Public Protector that the process of taking appropriate disciplinary action against Minister Gordhan would best be served by waiting until the legal processes of his review proceedings were concluded.
The President therefore indicated to the Public Protector his intention to defer his decision on what disciplinary action if any to take against Minister Gordhan until final determination of the Minister’s review application.