NATIONAL NEWS - Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane may have set President Cyril Ramaphosa up for an attack from within the ANC over the future of Pravin Gordhan.
“I think she is under exceptional pressure following the DA’s case last week and, if she loses this case against Gordhan, this could be her third strike,” political analyst Daniel Silke said, following news Gordhan had filed the application to review Mkhwebane’s finding that he had acted unconstitutionally on the Ivan Pillay matter.
Silke said this could stir up divisions within the governing ANC, given that a large number of caucus members promoted her to the Chapter 9 position.
“If she loses the Gordhan case, it does not necessarily mean the party will have a cohesive view on prompting her removal. It could very well create tension within the ANC and could pit the existing divisions against one other,” Silke said.
“It’s something Ramaphosa does not really need because it can undermine what he had hoped for in uniting the ANC. A lot will also depend on the selection: we will have to see if the Cabinet contains more Gordhan-esque personalities.”
Gordhan’s lawyer said yesterday the public protector had no jurisdiction over the complaint that ex-SA Revenue Service (Sars) acting commissioner Ivan Pillay’s retirement and subsequent rehiring was improper.
“The Public Protector Act prevents the public protector from entertaining a complaint reported more than two years from the occurrence of the incident or a matter concerned, unless there are ‘special circumstances’ present, which is a question within her discretion,” Gordhan’s attorney, Tebogo Malatji, said yesterday.
“Mr Pillay’s early retirement was approved on 18 October 2010, and there are no ‘special circumstances’ justifying the public protector entertaining the complaint almost a decade later.”
Malatji said his client had considered Pillay’s request for early retirement for three months.
“He took the advice of at least six people with competence, expertise and experience in pension law and public administration. Those consulted advised that it was competent, perfectly lawful and appropriate to approve the request.
“The high-water mark of the public protector’s findings is that she has a different, and mistaken, interpretation of the law. That does not, and cannot, constitute misconduct or a legal or constitutional contravention of any kind.”
A strong Cabinet would help Ramaphosa cement his authority, said Silke.
“It’s awkward for Ramaphosa and this creates a degree of uncertainty in the currency and equity markets as to just how much control Ramaphosa does possess over his ability to navigate these complexities within the ANC,” Silke said.
“The second real issue is to what degree Ramaphosa will assert his own authority, rather than be bullied by [Julius] Malema [of the EFF]. This, of course, is another test for Ramaphosa. He is unlikely to be swayed by a party which received 10% to 11% of the vote in the elections. But it does set Malema and Ramaphosa on a collision course over Gordhan.”