27 May 2019

South Africa: Ramaphosa Faces Fraught Decision Over Immediate Fate of His Trusted Ally

Photo: GCIS/Flickr
President Cyril Ramaphosa being sworn into office by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng on May 25, 2019.

It is highly likely that President Cyril Ramaphosa intends to appoint former Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to his new Cabinet. But a Public Protector report released on Friday implicating Gordhan in wrongdoing now puts Ramaphosa in a sticky spot. However unreliable the Public Protector's recent reports have been found to be, can Ramaphosa's New Dawn justify the appointment of a Cabinet minister with a cloud over his head, no matter how radioactive it is?

The President of the Republic of South Africa must "take appropriate disciplinary action" against former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan "for failing to uphold the values and principles of public administration entrenched in section 195 of the Constitution, and the duty conferred on members of the Cabinet".

That is one of the major findings of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's latest report investigating the retirement package granted to former deputy SARS commissioner Ivan Pillay in October 2010.

Mkhwebane found that there was not a "rational" reason for Gordhan's approval of Pillay's early retirement, only to re-hire him under a new fixed-term contract at SARS. She added:

"When these circumstances are considered together with the fact that Minister Gordhan and Mr Pillay had a longstanding political kinship dating...

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