Gordhan asks court to set aside public protector's report on early pension payout at Sars

Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan has asked the court to set aside Busisiwe Mkhwebane's findings that he acted improperly.
Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan has asked the court to set aside Busisiwe Mkhwebane's findings that he acted improperly.
Image: REUTERS

Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan has asked the court to set aside the public protector’s report which found he had acted improperly in approving former Sars senior official Ivan Pillay’s early pension payout.

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane recommended President Cyril Ramaphosa take disciplinary action against Gordhan for “violating the constitution” by using public funds to “irregularly” approve Pillay’s early retirement.

A complaint was lodged with the public protector's office in November 2016, alleging that Gordhan and former Sars commissioner Oupa Magashula had acted dishonestly with regard to public funds, which had resulted in Pillay receiving an improper advantage or being unjustifiably enriched at the expense of the taxpayer.

Mkhwebane said Pillay was not entitled to an early retirement payout.

In his court papers filed at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, Gordhan wants the report to be reviewed, set aside and declared unconstitutional and irrational as she had failed to comply with her duties.

“The report is also riddled with reviewable errors. It misstates the applicable legal framework for the approval of Mr Pillay’s early retirement with full benefits. It rests its findings and remedial action on flawed logic and a misunderstanding of the facts. It also is the product of a procedurally unfair and flawed process,” Gordhan argues.

Following the release of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's findings against Pravin Gordhan regarding an early pension payout for a former senior SA Revenue Service official, Sunday Times political reporter Zingisa Mvumvu takes a look at what it means and why the findings matter.

He further argues that Mkhwebane’s discretion in deciding to investigate the complaint – which was lodged with her office in 2016 – was improperly exercised as she had no jurisdiction over the complaint as there are no special circumstances present as per the requirements under the Public Protector’s Act.

“… nor [is there] any other basis on which to rationally exercise her discretion in terms of section 6(9) of the PP Act to entertain this complaint since it relates to matters that commenced in or about March 2009, more than 10 years ago.”

Gordhan also wants Mkhwebane to personally bear some of the costs.

He says that Mkhwebane’s office must “show cause why the above-mentioned decision must not be reviewed and set aside”.

  • - Additional reporting by Genevieve Quintal

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