Decisions, Decisions

Pravin Gordhan is now Ramaphosa’s Comrade Cabinet Dilemma

By Ferial Haffajee 29 May 2019
Caption
President Cyril Ramaphosa (Photo: Leila Dougan) Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan (NIC BOTHMA/EPA)

The Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report released on Friday, which found that Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan may have acted in violation of public service rules and of the Constitution, in a previous role, has created a significant dilemma for President Cyril Ramaphosa, say officials.

As an anti-corruption campaigner and an instititutionalist, can Cyril Ramaphosa appoint Gordhan in the face of the Public Protector’s report?

In weekend meetings, the President mulled this conundrum with his inner circle which includes Gordhan. By filing his application to review Mkhwebane’s report in the High Court on Tuesday, Gordhan has ensured the finding is now, legally, in abeyance and there is no legal reason for him not to be appointed.

But there are still other political hurdles for Ramaphosa and Gordhan to clear. The ANC deputy president David Mabuza has set up a new practice when he refused to be sworn in as an MP with an Integrity Commission report hanging over his head. Once he resolved that, he was sworn in on Tuesday.

Political observers from the opposite side of the ANC now want Gordhan to do the same thing.

In addition, if Ramaphosa does not appoint politicians like ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini and former Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba into his Cabinet while placing Gordhan in office, he could very easily face a backlash for exercising double standards.

Until now, Ramaphosa had no intention of including politicians like Dlamini and Gigaba in his Cabinet because they are at the centre of allegations of state capture.

But Mkhwebane’s report can now be read as placing Gordhan in the same camp even though the facts paint a different story. If Ramaphosa is to stay true to his identity as a President who believes in institutions like that of the Public Protector, he cannot be seen to be thumbing his nose at her finding, no matter how odious. DM

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In other news...

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