The verbal brawl between Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan and Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has taken a new turn after it was revealed that the protector allegedly has no evidence of wrongdoing against the minister.
Mkhwebane is probing allegations of maladministration and dishonest and improper conduct against Gordhan following a complaint submitted in November 2016 related to the approval of former South African Revenue Service (Sars) deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay’s early retirement.
Her office did not respond yesterday to Gordhan’s lawyers’ revelations that the public protector had no evidence against Gordhan and that their request for the particulars of the complaint have been ignored.
Gordhan’s lawyer, Tebogo Malatji, said Mkhwebane made this admission in a letter dated February 28 but, in the same letter, said she was conducting a preliminary investigation.
“In the said letter, [Mkhwebane] indicated that her office has no evidence implicating Gordhan in any wrongdoing,” Malatji said in a statement.
Political analyst Levy Ndou said if a complaint was lodged, the complainant must provide the public protector with evidence to work from.
“Unfortunately, as it appears in this case, there is no evidence from which the public protector can start her probe.
“Some people are trying to use Mkhwebane in a witch-hunt in order to settle political scores,” he said.
Mkhwebane’s spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, said the office wrote to the minister four times this year requesting responses to the allegations.