Busi goes af­ter Pravin

Pub­lic pro­tec­tor pur­sues Sars pen­sion case dis­missed by NPA

Sowetan - - Front Page - By Ran­jeni Munusamy

De­ci­sions taken to clean up the state are stalled when they are chal­lenged, whether in­ter­nally or through lit­i­ga­tion Pravin Gord­han PUB­LIC EN­TER­PRISES MIN­IS­TER

Pub­lic en­ter­prises min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by pub­lic pro­tec­tor Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane and has been sub­poe­naed to ap­pear be­fore her next week.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­lates to the early re­tire­ment pack­age of­fered to for­mer SA Rev­enue Ser­vice (Sars) deputy com­mis­sioner Ivan Pil­lay in 2010. Gord­han has in­formed judge Ray­mond Zondo, chair­per­son of the state cap­ture com­mis­sion of in­quiry, about the pub­lic pro­tec­tor’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion, say­ing this was part of the “mis­use and abuse of pub­lic pow­ers for sus­pi­cious ob­jec­tives”.

Ac­cord­ing to Gord­han’s state­ment, the com­plaint against him was lodged on Novem­ber 18 2016 by Le­bo­gang Hoveka, then a speech writer in then pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s of­fice.

This was a month af­ter Thuli Madon­sela’s term as pub­lic pro­tec­tor ended and Mkhwe­bane took of­fice. It was also three weeks af­ter for­mer Na­tional Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Prose­cu­tions Shaun Abra­hams with­drew fraud charges against Gord­han, Pil­lay and for­mer Sars com­mis­sioner Oupa Ma­gashula re­gard­ing the re­tire­ment pack­age.

It is un­clear why Mkhwe­bane is only in­ter­view­ing Gord­han about the mat­ter now. Her spokesper­son Oupa Se­galwe con­firmed that Gord­han was sub­poe­naed to meet with her on Wed­nes­day, Novem­ber 14.

“Yes, the pub­lic pro­tec­tor sub­poe­naed and is in­ves­ti­gat­ing al­le­ga­tions of im­pro­pri­ety against min­is­ter Gord­han. “It has been al­leged that the min­is­ter ap­proved Mr Pil­lay’s re­tire­ment and bought off his pen­sion bal­ance ir­reg­u­larly and later al­lowed him to be reem­ployed by Sars,” Se­galwe said via text mes­sage yes­ter­day.

He said he was not at lib­erty to dis­close the iden­tity of the com­plainant. Pres­i­den­tial spokesper­son Khusela Diko con­firmed that Hoveka was still em­ployed in the pres­i­dency but said he was now at­tached to the of­fice of the deputy pres­i­dent.

In his state­ment to the in­quiry, Gord­han raised con­cerns about the in­tim­i­da­tion, ha­rass­ment and racist abuse of those ap­pear­ing be­fore the Zondo com­mis­sion. “Peo­ple, in­clud­ing my­self, who are ap­pear­ing be­fore the com­mis­sion con­tinue to be sub­jected to ha­rass­ment and racist abuse in friv­o­lous and vex­a­tious lit­i­ga­tion, in the me­dia and on so­cial me­dia,” Gord­han stated. De­ci­sions taken to clean up the state are stalled when they are chal­lenged, whether in­ter­nally or through lit­i­ga­tion, he said.

Re­gard­ing the pub­lic pro­tec­tor’s sub­poena, Gord­han said this was the same is­sue for which he was charged crim­i­nally in 2016. Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity spokesper­son Lu­vuo Mfaku said there was cur­rently no crim­i­nal case pend­ing against Gord­han re­lat­ing to Pil­lay’s re­tire­ment pack­age. “[Abra­hams] re­viewed it and re­versed the de­ci­sion to pros­e­cute,” said Mfaku. Gord­han said in his state­ment that he be­lieved the pub­lic pro­tec­tor’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion was an abuse of pub­lic pow­ers. “I be­lieve that the fight­back is aimed at coun­ter­ing the work done this year by pub­lic ser­vants and po­lit­i­cal of­fice bear­ers to ‘re-cap­ture’ the state and de­liver on the con­sti­tu­tional man­date,” said Gord­han. He said the com­mis­sion should con­sider re­leas­ing in­terim re­ports or mea­sures that could ex­pose and help put a stop to on­go­ing malfea­sance. “The work cur­rently be­ing done with SOEs [state-owned en­ter­prises] shows that they are and were se­ri­ously com­pro­mised in terms of the scale of fi­nan­cial losses, the un­der­min­ing of good cor­po­rate gov­er­nance, their op­er­a­tional ca­pac­ity, and the dearth of com­pe­tent and coura­geous lead­er­ship in the face of se­ri­ous fis­cal risk,” said Gord­han.

“It must be recog­nised that those con­stituen­cies who would have liked the sta­tus quo to re­main are en­gaged in a de­ter­mined and vig­or­ous fight­back tak­ing place across our state.”

The real cost of state cap­ture was the dam­age done to the in­tu­itional fab­ric of the state, said Gord­han.

“Good peo­ple lost their jobs, fam­i­lies were put through trauma and vil­i­fi­ca­tion for stand­ing up, and the last­ing im­pact of the past decade weak­ened and hol­lowed out our state.”

Gord­han said de­spite what he con­sid­ered to be in­tim­i­da­tion and ha­rass­ment, “fol­low­ing the law and our con­sciences has been, and will con­tinue to be, our cho­sen path”.

“The cost of be­ing hon­est is high for me per­son­ally, as well as for my fam­ily and my col­leagues. It is a price paid to en­sure that South Africa trans­forms from its apartheid past and its re­cently cap­tured state into the na­tion for all South Africans promised in the con­sti­tu­tion.”

GETTY IMAGES

/ HALDEN KROG/ GETTY IMAGES

Pravin Gord­han says he be­lieves the fight­back is an at­tempt to keep the sta­tus quo of state cap­ture.

SANDILE NDLOVU /

Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane.

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