In the High Court in Pretoria on Monday morning, President Cyril Ramaphosa obtained an urgent interim interdict on the implementation of remedial action stipulated by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in her report, which found he had misled parliament over Bosasa donations to his CR17 election campaign.
One part of the remedial action ordered that Ramaphosa must disclose all the campaign’s funders in parliament. This will now be suspended awaiting the outcome of the president’s judicial review of the report.
The report found the president “deliberately mislead parliament” when he was confronted on a donation made to his son Andile of R500,000 from Gavin Watson, the CEO of hugely controversial facilities company African Global Operations, formerly known as Bosasa.
Last week, the president faced off against Mkhwebane over a separate report from the office of the public protector, which found Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan had irregularly approved former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay’s early retirement.
Last Thursday, the High Court in Pretoria ruled in Ramaphosa’s favour, with Judge Lettie Molopa-Sethosa finding that he had behaved in a “rational and reasonable” way when he wrote to Mkhwebane saying he would not implement remedial action against Gordhan until the outcome of his review process against the report had been concluded.
Mkhwebane, joined by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), challenged this, saying it amounted to the president avoiding taking action against Gordhan.
This followed Gordhan on Monday the previous week successfully interdicting Mkhwebane from enforcing the remedial action stipulated in another report, which found he had violated the constitution through his involvement in the so-called “rogue unit” at Sars.
Gordhan argued that the action, if allowed to go ahead, would cause him “irreparable harm”.
Judge Sulet Potterill found that Gordhan’s legal team was correct in arguing that the harm to him would be irreparable if the interdict was not granted.
Suspending an order of the public protector would not weaken her office, Potterill further found.
She added that Ramaphosa could not be criticised for waiting for the court’s decision before implementing the remedial action stipulated by Mkhwebane.
However, it does not mean he’s entirely off the hook, as the matter remains before the courts.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)