The knives are out between Mkhwebane and Gordhan

The knives are out between Mkhwebane and Gordhan

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, left, and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, right.

The spat between Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has turned ugly, punctuated by accusations of personal insults and lies.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane yesterday slammed Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan’s “emotive language and personal insults and blatant lies” contained in his urgent application to interdict the implementation of her remedial action contained in her recent report.

“Advocate Mkhwebane also noted the application to have the report reviewed. She accepts that a review is part of the prescribed process available to aggrieved parties to challenge reports emanating from her office,” said acting spokesperson Oupa Segalwe in a statement.

“However, Advocate Mkhwebane wishes to record her disappointment at how the court application is cloaked in the indignity of personal insults. She will only comment on the facts of the matter as engaging in the personal insults is below the dignity of the high offices of responsibility which she and the minister occupy.”

Mkhwebane was referring to Gordhan’s furious response in his founding affidavit to have the 30-day limit set aside after Mkhwebane found him wanting over allegations “of maladministration, corruption and improper conduct by the South African Revenue Service (Sars)”.

“There is no legal or other obstacle to Sars establishing and operating a variety of investigation units to strengthen tax compliance and enforcement. This is in accordance with international best practice,” Gordhan stated. “The investigating unit lawfully established by Sars investigated tax rogues. There is nothing rogue about its establishment.”

Gordhan called the “persistent claim to the contrary” a lie and “fake news”.

“It is a falsehood that is repeated and repeated and repeated by some in the hope that someone will believe that there must be something there,” Gordhan said, calling Mkhwebane’s report “irrational, unreasonable, unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid”.

“It is a baseless, defamatory, scurrilous and false claim made by those who wish to defeat our constitutional project,” he said.

Gordhan said in his affidavit four reports of Mkhwebane had been overturned in judgments “scathing of her comprehension of her constitutional role, grasp of the law and ability to act without fear, favour or prejudice”.

Gordhan said it was clear the two reports Mkhwebane had issued against him, together with “prominent” participation from the Economic Freedom Fighters, formed a pattern of “state capture” which was now part of a backlash against a “renewal” project.

Mkhwebane said she would be defending the matter.

“It is our considered opinion that the emotive language and personal insults and blatant lies or innuendos are meant to divert attention from the real issues and the findings,” Mkhwebane said.

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