AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY
Stalingrad on stilts: ConCourt dismisses suspended Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s application in Ivan Pillay pension saga
In a year of defeats, the Constitutional Court on Wednesday delivered yet another blow to suspended Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, dismissing her leave to appeal a Gauteng High Court judgment regarding former South African Revenue Service deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay’s pension package.
On Wednesday, Justices Jody Kollapen, Mbuyiseli Madlanga, Steven Majiedt, Rammaka Mathopo, Nonkosi Mhlantla, Dunstan Mlambo, Leona Theron and Zukisa Tshiqi dismissed, with costs, Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s application as it bore “no reasonable prospects of success”.
In September 2021, the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed Mkhwebane’s application appealing the setting aside of her 2019 report into South African Revenue Service (Sars) deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay’s pension package.
The defeat this week comes in the heat of a rejection by President Cyril Ramaphosa of an ultimatum by Mkhwebane to have her suspension reversed.
Mkhwebane, who was suspended by the president on 9 June, wrote to his office this week claiming that her suspension was “irrational” and “illegal”. The president replied that he would “see her in court”.
The Public Protector’s office is investigating the break-in and theft of a disputed amount of foreign currency at Ramaphosa’s game farm in Limpopo in 2020. The complaint was lodged by African Transformation Movement president, Vuyo Zungula.
In 2020, the court ruled that Mkhwebane’s findings that Pravin Gordhan acted unlawfully, had been irrational, as had been her recommendations.
The court said Mkhwebane had made a material error of law when she concluded that Gordhan’s approval in 2010 – while minister of finance – of Pillay’s pension package had been improper.
The PP had recommended that the president take disciplinary action against Gordhan. Advocate Dali Mpofu represented Mkhwebane.
However, evidence presented during the drawn-out saga proved that Gordhan had acted on legal advice and that the practice of re-employing retirees on contract is common in the public service.
The Public Protector’s Office has spent R52-million defending her reports in court and R14.9 million warding off her impeachment inquiry process. DM