If you were a connoisseur of the yellow press, you might have formed the (incorrect) impression that former finance minister Pravin Gordhan actually lost his court bid last week against the Gupta family.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Gordhan had approached the courts last October for an order declaring that he had no right to intervene in the relationship between a bank and its client. In other words, the Guptas shouldn’t have asked him to intervene to strong-arm the banks into keeping their accounts open.
The court dismissed Gordhan’s application, saying there was no issue on which it had to make a ruling. It said neither the constitution nor the law "empowers a member of the national executive such as the minister to intervene in a private bank-client dispute".
In other words, Gordhan did the right thing. Of course, this wasn’t the sole objective of his court action: in part, it was to flush into the open the R6.8bn in suspicious transactions linked to the Guptas’ accounts. That he did successfully.
But at its heart, the court ruling is a clear message to other ministers who would seek to abuse the authority of their office to help a particular person in the private sector: this cannot be allowed. Perhaps the advisers to mining minister Mosebenzi Zwane should sit down with him and explain the implications.