The ANC is a divided party: If Cyril Ramaphosa isn’t trying to fend-off the pro-Zuma faction of their support base, you can guarantee there’s another public spat happening somewhere else. After we saw Fikile Mbalula tackle Carl Niehaus earlier this month, it seems the latest duel is now between Pravin Gordhan and Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report
The public protector declared last week that Gordhan had acted unlawfully in 2011 when he granted an early pension payout to SARS official Ivan Pillay. Her report recommended remedial action against the minister.
However, PG has strenuously denied these claims, maintaining that he acted “in good faith” when he came to his decision. Gordhan has also stated that he gained the approval of six separate legal advisors before giving Pillay his golden handshake, and didn’t feel the need to challenge their consensus.
Naturally, this cloud hanging over Gordhan has given plenty of impetus to the EFF. Julius Malema has been banging the drum, referring to the SOE chief as “a crocodile amongst lizards”. Now, five days after the report was made public, Pravin has come out all guns blazing – and he’ll be taking legal action against the public protector.
What Pravin Gordhan said about Busisiwe Mkhwebane
In an affidavit filed to the courts, Pravin Gordan has torn strips off of Busisiwe Mkhwebane. He has accused her of displaying “stunning incompetence” during her time in office, and explained that she’s been “embarrassed” by several rulings she made as public protector which have since been set aside:
“I believe that previous cases show an emerging and consistent pattern for the constitutional mandate of the office of the public protector by its current occupant and the stunning incompetence, irrationality and negligence on her part in the performance of her duties.”
“The findings come at a suspicious time. They are politically motivated and enable a renewal of the ongoing political campaign against me by proponents of ‘state capture’ and defenders of corruption”.
Will Pravin Gordhan return to cabinet?
Gordhan’s affidavit blasts Mkhwebane for her dubious reports on both Bankorp and the Vrede Dairy Farm cases: The former shocked the rand into a nosedive, and the latter was recently dismissed in a court of law.
This whole saga puts Cyril Ramaphosa in a very awkward position: He’s yet to name his cabinet, a whole week after Parliament reconvened and the MPs were sworn in. There are major doubts that Pravin Gordhan can simply return to his role as public enterprises minister, as the public protector’s ruling looms large over the 70-year-old.