The public dispute between the Public Protector and the president has taken another turn as Ramaphosa filed a supporting affidavit in Pravin Gordhan’s application for the suspension of the enforcement of the remedial action recommended by the Public Protector.
The decision follows after the Public Protector publically stated that her findings were binding and that the president was compelled to take action in accordance with her recommendations.
The Pubilc Protector held that in the absence of an interdict there was no reason for the president not to take action, even going so far as to give the president an ultimatum to take action.
‘Rogue Unit’ In SARS
The filing that was made in the North Gauteng High Court relates to the investigation by the Public Protector into the establishment of the so-called “rogue unit” within the South African Revenue Service (SARS).
Gordhan has asked that remedial action be suspended until such time as the Gauteng High Court is able to review the Public Protector’s findings.
The president’s filing supports Gordhan’s application to suspend remedial action as this application relates to the recommendation by the Public Protector to take disciplinary action against Gordhan based on her report.
Ramaphosa’s submission highlights that Gordhan has “urged the North Gauteng High Court to interdict the Public Protector from enforcing the remedial action in question”.
Taking legal action against ministers
In the president’s submission he notes that there is clearly merit to the legal dispute between the minister and the Public Protector and the validity of the findings in the report.
In addition to this, the president has raised an additional point, asking whether the president actually has any legal power to take action against ministers.
The president has essentially questioned whether a minister who serves at the pleasure of the president would be subject to disciplinary action in the same way in which an employee would.
The president has essentially questioned whether it makes sense for him to take action while there is an ongoing legal review which would need to decide on whether the Public Protectors findings are valid and further what if any disciplinary powers the president holds over ministers.
Criticism from the public
South African citizens took to Twitter, and their words were harsh. One user said, “Just like that, by siding with a man who violated the Constitution, Ramaphosa has sealed his fate,” while another said:
“The president is starting his presidency on a wrong foot, he will not be able to discipline anyone in future… He won’t make it to 2024… after 2022 ANC conference they will chuck him out.”
A user known only as Anthropologist, added: “These guys can go as far as capturing the Judiciary when they want something to go their own way.” Yet another said, “The shadow president supporting the real president…”
“Ramaphosa’s political opponents jovial as he swallows the bait that has [the] potential to sink him politically because of his loyalty to an individual.”