The office of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has hit back at Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan, calling his bid to have remedial action against him reviewed as “an unjustified attempt by an aggrieved party to avoid accountability for his unlawful conduct”.
Mkhwebane filed an answering affidavit on Monday as Gordhan fights her finding that he lied to Parliament about meeting the Gupta family, and was involved in the establishment of the so-called “rogue unit” while he was the head of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) in 2007.
Earlier this month, Mkhwebane announced that President Cyril Ramaphosa should take disciplinary action against Gordhan for “violation of the Constitution and the Executive Ethics Code” within 30 days.
Mkhwebane has also accused Ramaphosa of failing to uphold the integrity of the Constitution and said he would need to act to implement the remedial action or risk causing a “constitutional crisis”.
The president has filed his own urgent application to have a court declare that he complied with the Public Protector’s remedial action in the matter regarding a pension payout for former deputy SARS commissioner Ivan Pillay.
In her answering affidavit, Mkhwebane says Gordhan has used his bid to have her findings against him set aside to “mount unjustified insults by making unprecedented allegations that I have aided corruption and state capture”.
She asserts that this claim is made “without a shred of evidence”.
She adds that the minister’s “ill-advised accusations against the Office of the Public Protector are intended to provide a political basis (as opposed to a constitutional basis) for my removal”.
Mkhwebane further states that her affidavit shows that Gordhan’s claims that she abused her constitutional powers and “aided the growth of corruption and malfeasance in the public administration are untrue, malicious and made in bad faith”.
She has asked the court to dismiss Gordhan’s application with costs.
Fin24 previously reported that the minister claims the Public Protector got both the facts and the law wrong in her findings against him.