Busi’s tim­ing on Gord­han is sus­pi­cious

Sowetan - - Opinion -

Pub­lic en­ter­prises min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han is not above the law. No per­son is, for that mat­ter.

So if there is a case that he needs to an­swer be­fore any of the coun­try’s in­sti­tu­tions set up in terms of the con­sti­tu­tion, so he should. How­ever it is dif­fi­cult not to be sus­pi­cious of the mo­tives be­hind the seem­ingly sud­den re­vival of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into his role in of­fer­ing Ivan Pil­lay an early re­tire­ment pack­age as the deputy com­mis­sioner at SA Rev­enue Ser­vices.

The Pil­lay pen­sion saga, and Gord­han’s al­leged role in it, was at the cen­tre of the cam­paign by sup­port­ers of then pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma to re­move the min­is­ter from cab­i­net about two years ago,

It re­sulted in the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity charg­ing Gord­han with fraud, only for then NPA head Shaun Abra­hams to with­draw the charges on the grounds that there was no case against Gord­han.

It is there­fore cu­ri­ous that pub­lic pro­tec­tor Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane has de­cided to pick up the mat­ter two years af­ter Abra­hams con­cluded there was no case.

What also leaves a bit­ter taste in the mouth about the pub­lic pro­tec­tor’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion is that it is based on a com­plaint by a for­mer speech­writer in Zuma pres­i­den­tial of­fice. The speech-writer, Le­bo­gang Hoveka, ap­par­ently lodged a com­plaint with the pub­lic pro­tec­tor in Novem­ber 2016, just three weeks af­ter Abra­hams de­ci­sion to with­draw the charges.

Why then is the pub­lic pro­tec­tor only now sum­mon­ing Gord­han to ap­pear be­fore her?

We have the ut­most re­spect for the pub­lic pro­tec­tor’s of­fice and wish Mkhwe­bane all the suc­cess dur­ing her ten­ure.

How­ever, for her to suc­ceed, it is im­por­tant that her in­ves­ti­ga­tions are seen to be in­de­pen­dent; im­par­tial and not in­flu­enced by any po­lit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions. Gord­han clearly be­lieves that Mkhwe­bane’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion is part of the “mis­use and abuse of pub­lic pow­ers for sus­pi­cious ob­jec­tives”. But it may very well be that Mkhwe­bane has no “sus­pi­cious ob­jec­tives” and that she is sim­ply car­ry­ing out her con­sti­tu­tional du­ties the best way she can. How­ever, she needs to ex­plain the tim­ing, given that the sub­poena came so close to the date when Gord­han is sup­posed to ap­pear be­fore deputy chief jus­tice Ray­mond Zondo to give tes­ti­mony about state cap­ture and Zuma’s role in it.

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