Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: THAPELO MOREBUDI
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: THAPELO MOREBUDI

The legal battle pitting under-fire public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane against public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan and President Cyril Ramaphosa will be the highlight of the week.

In July a high court granted Gordhan an interdict to suspend Mkhwebane’s remedial action against him in the SA Revenue Service (Sars) so-called “rogue unit” report, pending a full judicial review.

Mkhwebane then approached the Constitutional Court arguing that the high court order was “granted erroneously and is bad in law” and that it will “create unbearable conditions for the effective functioning of the public protector”. The matter is due to be heard on Thursday.

In July, Mkhwebane released reports finding that Gordhan had violated the constitution by establishing the Sars “rogue unit”. She also found that he had misled the National Assembly about meeting the Gupta family.

Mkhwebane directed Ramaphosa to take disciplinary action against Gordhan within 30 days.

Support for Gordhan

Ramaphosa has come out in strong support of Gordhan saying the minister is a person of commitment and integrity.

In another legal battle, the Pietermaritzburg High Court will deliver its judgment on former president Jacob Zuma’s appeal application on Friday.

Zuma wants the court to grant him leave to appeal the judgment which dismissed his application for a permanent stay of prosecution and that of his co-accused, French arms company Thales.

They are both facing charges of fraud, racketeering, corruption and money-laundering relating to the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal. If the appeals process fails, both Zuma and Thales face the prospect of standing trial in 2020.

Meanwhile, Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba officially steps down from his position on Wednesday. In his resignation speech shortly after the election of former party leader Helen Zille to chair the DA’s federal council, Mashaba was at pains to point out that Zille’s election represented a victory for people who stood “diametrically” opposed to his beliefs.

With no party having a clear majority — the city council has 270 seats — SA’s economic hub is up for grabs. The ANC has 122 seats, followed by the DA with 103 and the EFF with 30 seats. The IFP has five and the African Independent Congress four. The Freedom Front Plus (FF+), African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), Al Jama-ah, UDM, COPE and PA all have one seat each.

This means the EFF and the other smaller parties, which have previously backed the DA in Johannesburg, will be the kingmakers. However, the EFF now wants to field its own candidate to take over from Mashaba.

James Selfe, the DA’s head of the governance unit, said on Sunday  the party will be fielding a capable and experienced candidate, Funzela “Funzi” Ngobeni.

“This scenario where there are three candidates, and the political dynamics of the Joburg council, will most likely result in a run-off election,” Selfe said.

He said in terms of the Municipal Structures Act, which regulates the election of mayors, if there are more than two candidates for the position, the council will have successive rounds of voting. After each round, the candidate with the least number of votes will drop out, and voting will then take place for the remaining candidates.

“Having consulted with our coalition parties, namely the IFP, ACDP, COPE and FF+, we are confident that when the various caucuses toe their party lines, the EFF candidate will fall out, leaving the DA and ANC candidates. This, therefore, leaves the EFF with an important decision, whether they support the DA multiparty coalition’s candidate or support the ANC, whose only intention is to reverse the progress made since 2016 and loot the people of Johannesburg’s money,” Selfe said.

Elsewhere on the political scene the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture will resume on Monday when it will hear the testimony of Rieaz  “Mo” Shaik and former state security ministerial adviser Gibson Njenje.

On Tuesday the Public Service Commission (PSC) will brief the media on its quarterly bulletin titled "The Pulse of the Public Service". The briefing will focus on the non-payment of suppliers by government departments within 30 days, the enforcement of arbitration awards, and complaints and grievances handled by the PSC.

The National Assembly will on Tuesday consider the standing committee on finance's reports on monetary bills. On Wednesday, the economics cluster of ministers comprising the departments of trade and industry, employment and labour, tourism, and finance will appear before the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) to respond to questions. The Division of Revenue Bill is also scheduled to be considered on the same day.

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