Pravin Gordhan’s legal team has described the process then finance minister followed before deciding to approve former South African Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Ivan Pillay’s early retirement, as “a model of executive decision making”.
“If only our public officials were to be as careful and circumspect and transparent as the minister was in this case,” advocate Wim Trengrove, for Gordhan, told the North Gauteng High Court on Wednesday.
This as Gordhan’s application to have the court throw out Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s May 2019 report, in which she found his decision constituted improper conduct and ordered President Cyril Ramaphosa to take “appropriate disciplinary action” against Gordhan.
Gordhan has already secured an interdict suspending the Public Protector’s order.
Now, he wants her report reviewed and set aside.
Trengrove on Wednesday argued Gordhan had in fact walked “the extra mile,” taking more than two months to reach a decision and consulting several experts.
“The minister consulted – directly and indirectly – six experts … All six experts told him it would be perfectly lawful for him to approve the Pillay package,” Trengrove said.
“The minister acted entirely openly and transparently … He took the decision in an exemplary fashion.”
Trengrove described Mkhwebane’s findings – that Gordhan was guilty of improper conduct because he had made six errors of law – as “irrational”.
In any case, he went on, Gordhan’s decision was in fact “perfectly lawful”.
“It was entirely lawful and he was not guilty of any errors of law,” Trengrove said.