Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane claims Minister Pravin Gordhan is interfering with her investigation after he set his lawyers on her this week for issuing a subpoena against him over the so-called SA Revenue Service (Sars) rogue unit.
While Mkhwebane has agreed to extend the deadline for Gordhan to respond to claims about his involvement in the rogue unit, she maintains the public enterprises minister is getting in the way of her bringing the matter to finality.
“He should be happy that at least we can try to bring this matter to finality because other institutions such as your National Prosecuting Authority [NPA] are investigating the criminal conduct.
“From our side, we are investigating the complaint by the EFF.”
The complaint refers to a 2016 complaint, which according to the public protector was one of the backlog matters that needed finalising.
She says the public office would look into three matters lodged by the EFF. The Sars rogue unit, the early retirement payout made to former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay, and the issue of tenders, since Gordhan was the accounting officer at the time as Sars commissioner.
Urging Gordhan to cooperate, she says her office determined how investigations were handled and it would be in Gordhan’s interest to provide the necessary information.
“I didn’t want him to just receive a Section 7-9 notice and say public protector you didn’t engage me.
“I’m saying, minister can you give me your side of the story.”
She highlighted that the public protectors’ office did not investigate criminality, as people were mentioning the NPA dropping charges against the minister.
“That’s not my mandate, I’m a chapter nine institution and I don’t operate like the other institutions.”
“I’m pleading with him to go back and understand how we work. The president is cooperating, as he understood” her role in office.
Mkhwebane’s subpoena to Gordhan was for the minister to make submissions to her office following a complaint from the EFF’s Floyd Shivambu.