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EFF to join Mkhwebane's defence against Gordhan

The EFF says there's no sense of urgency from President Cyril Ramaphosa to address concerns with Gordhan.

EFF MPs are thrown out during Pravin Gordhan's Public Enterprises budget vote. Picture: Parliament YouTube.

JOHANNESBURG - The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on Thursday said it would join Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in Pravin Gordhan's case against her ruling on the South African Revenue Service's (Sars) so-called rogue unit. The party's statement came after a scuffle ensued as the Public Enterprises minister got ready to deliver his department's budget vote, leading to the EFF being removed from the chambers.

Last Friday, Mkhwebane found that Gordhan violated the Constitution when allowing Sars' high-risk investigations unit (the intelligence unit) to operate during his tenure as the tax agency’s commissioner.

Gordhan on Wednesday launched urgent court action to suspend Mkhwebane’s remedial action and to have her report on the unit, which she said was illegal, reviewed and set aside.

• Read: 5 key findings the PP made against Pravin Gordhan

Mkhwebane ordered President Cyril Ramaphosa to “take appropriate disciplinary action” against Gordhan within 30 days of the release of her report. The Public Protector ordered that the minister should face an ethics investigation in Parliament. She also ordered the National Prosecuting Authority to finalise its prosecution into the "rogue" unit. The high-risk investigations unit was alleged to have carried out rogue operations, such as bugging the National Prosecuting Authority's offices. The unit was set up to investigate high-profile tax offenders.

"We are however surprised that Gordhan has lodged an urgent interdict seeking to stop implementation of the Public Protector’s remedial action. This is because he did not do the same with regards to the report of the PP before and its remedial actions were still never implemented by President Ramaphosa," said the EFF in the statement.

"In essence, remedial actions relating to Gordhan seem to actually never receive a positive response from the head of state. Nevertheless, we also cannot sense any urgency related to this matter, except Gordhan’s bloated egoism of thinking he is above the law and must always receive some special treatment from our legal system."

A commotion broke out on Thursday when EFF MPs disrupted Gordhan, saying he should not be allowed to address MPs as he is a "constitutional delinquent".

"We see no need to be addressed by a constitutional delinquent and we cannot listen to him," one of the EFF MPs said.

The point of order was refused and Gordhan was asked to continue with his speech. But the EFF refused to back down and continued rising on the same point of order. The situation escalated when they left their seats to confront Gordhan at the podium where he was standing, pointing fingers at him. Security was then asked to escort them out, after which a scuffle broke out.

Gordhan reacted, saying: "They must touch me." When he was finally able to give his speech, Gordhan said the actions was a "defence of state capture".

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