President Cyril Ramaphosa has hit back at Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who accused him of failing to uphold the Constitution, for not immediately implementing her findings against Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.
Gordhan - Mkhwebane found in her probe of the early pension payout for former SARS deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay in 2010 - had violated the Constitution by irregularly approving it.
Pillay was subsequently rehired at SARS on a contractual basis.
Mkhwebane recommended that Ramaphosa take disciplinary action against Gordhan who was reappointed public enterprises minister on May 29.
Within four days of the report being published, also in May, Gordhan filed a High Court application to have it set aside. On Monday, Ramaphosa's office issued a statement apparently in response to a report by Business Day detailing a June 26 letter from Mkhwebane to the president.
"The president's refusal to act on my remedial action is a failure on his part to uphold the Constitution," the newspaper quoted from the letter.
"I can deduce ... that the decision not to implement was a foregone conclusion as it is merely based on Mr Gordhan's assertions, and nothing else."
In a carefully worded statement issued late on Monday afternoon, the Presidency refuted Mkhwebane's claim, saying Ramaphosa had complied with the recommendations.
The president reiterated that he would await the outcome of the High Court proceedings before taking disciplinary action, if any. The statement also sets out that Ramaphosa had responded to Mkhwebane, setting out "his compliance with the recommendations".
"The Public Protector had directed the president to take note of the findings in the report insofar as they relate to Minister Gordhan and to take appropriate disciplinary action against the minister. No deadline was given when such 'appropriate disciplinary action' should be taken," the statement read.
"The president therefore indicated to the Public Protector his intention to defer his decision on what disciplinary action, if any, to take against Minister Gordhan until the final determination of the minister's review application," it added.