Gordhan to take Mkhwebane's ruling in Sars pension matter on review

In a statement on Friday Gordhan’s lawyers said they had advised their client that “the Public Protector’s findings, are totally wrong both in fact and in law”.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan at a press briefing at Lethabo power station. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has confirmed he will institute immediate review proceedings against the Public Protector's report and findings, including the proposed remedial action.

In a statement on Friday evening, Gordhan’s lawyers said they had advised their client that “the Public Protector’s findings, are totally wrong both in fact and in law”.

Earlier on Friday, Busisiwe Mkhwebane found Gordhan guilty of "improper conduct" over his approval of then deputy South African Revenue Service deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay's early retirement.

They also said they doubted whether Mkhwebane had paid due consideration to Gordhan's submissions.

“Minister Gordhan is of the view that the Public Protector has once again erred in her findings and proposed remedial action. We are instructed to institute review proceedings immediately.”

Gordhan's lawyers also questioned the timing and the haste of the Public Protector's release of the report.

“The complaint involves complex considerations of pension fund laws in as far they relate to public servants. The haste and the timing of the Public Protector shows a complete disregard for an important constitutional event for our country, the inauguration of the president of the Republic of South Africa,” they said.

In her report, Mkhwebane found that by law, Gordhan was not authorised to sign off on Pillay’s request for early retirement and full payout.

“One (of the findings) relates to an investigation into allegations of maladministration and impropriety in the approval of Mr Ivan Pillay's early retirement with full benefits and subsequent retention by Sars,” she said.

At the time, Gordhan was serving as the minister of finance and made the decision based on the recommendation of then Sars commissioner Oupa Magashula.

The Public Protector said: “We investigated the application of early retirement and payment of over R1 million which was levied on Mr Pillay’s benefits by the government pension fund that would allow him to enjoy full pension benefits as though he would have retired at a statutory age.”

She then urged President Ramaphosa to take appropriate disciplinary action against Gordhan for violating the Constitution.

Following Mkhwebane's announcement of her findings, the Economic Freedom Fighters urged Gordhan to "do the honourable thing" and step down.

The party also urged Ramaphosa to not include Gordhan in his Cabinet.