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Am I dreaming or is half the judiciary agog at the astonishing legal ineptitude of our so-called Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane? In a slew of legal defeats, judges have labelled her attempts to penalise Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan via a spray of remedial orders demanding immediate action with impractical deadlines, ‘vague, contradictory, nonsensical, and defying all logic,’ not to mention this latest gem, from Judge Letty Molopa-Sethosa; ‘mind-boggling’. The judge said this on Thursday in granting President Cyril Ramaphosa an interdict forcing a judicial review of Mkhwebane’s directive that he censure Gordhan (then Finance Minister), for allegedly violating the Constitution in granting top SARS official Ivan Pillay early retirement. Judge Molopa-Sethosa was referring to Mkhwebane’s refusal to delay the censure of Gordhan until a judicial review of her findings was heard. Delusions of grandeur is an expression that readily comes to mind as Mkwhebane moves from believing her powers outstrip that of the Constitution (in challenging the mandate of the Reserve Bank) to exceeding those of judges of the High Court. Even politicians who’d usually spring to her defence are now hesitating, the EFF and a few Zuptoid diehards being increasingly luminous exceptions. – Chris Bateman
Ramaphosa wins latest clash with South African graft ombudsman
By Mike Cohen
(Bloomberg) – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa secured a victory in his ongoing legal battle with the nation’s anti-graft ombudsman when the High Court suspended her directive that he discipline a cabinet member.
Judge Letty Molopa-Sethosa upheld the president’s argument that there should be a review before he carries out Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s May 24 directive to censure Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. She accused him of violating the constitution by granting tax agency official Ivan Pillay early retirement when he was finance minister in 2010. Gordhan is challenging the finding in court.
Ramaphosa acted rationally and reasonably and it was “mind-boggling” that Mkhwebane hadn’t consented to delaying the censure, Molopa-Sethosa said Thursday at a hearing in Pretoria, the capital. She ordered the Public Protector to pay legal costs.
The court ruling is the third within as many weeks to have gone against Mkhwebane, who civil-rights groups accuse of siding with Ramaphosa’s opponents in a power struggle in the ruling party. Her repeated setbacks will serve to strengthen the president, who’s also contesting her separate findings that he intentionally misled lawmakers about a campaign donation.
Last month, the High Court suspended Mkhwebane’s directive to Ramaphosa to discipline Gordhan for establishing an illegal intelligence unit when he headed the national tax agency until a court reviews the finding.
In May, the Constitutional Court upheld a 2017 High Court finding that she didn’t understand her mandate and acted in bad faith when she proposed changes to the central bank’s mandate.
Parliament’s justice committee is due to decide whether to probe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office early next month. She denies that she is playing politics, accuses her critics of seeking to undermine her investigations and has refused to resign.
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.