President Cyril Ramaphosa has hit back at Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane after she accused him of "failing to uphold the Constitution" for not acting more swiftly in implementing her findings against Minister Pravin Gordhan and his handling of the early pension of ex-Sars Deputy Commissioner, Ivan Pillay.
The Presidency stated: "The Public Protector had directed the president to take note of the findings in the report insofar as they relate to Minister Gordhan and to take appropriate disciplinary action against the minister. No deadline was given when such 'appropriate disciplinary action' should be taken."
Kieno Kammies talks to Spokesperson to President Cyril Ramaphosa at The Presidency Khusela Diko about the ongoing battle between President Cyril Ramaphosa and Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Perhaps I should start off by reaffirming the respect the president has for the office of the Public Protector. It is a Chapter 9 institution established to support our democracy and so at all times, the president would seek to cooperate with the Public Protector.— Khusela Diko, Spokesperson to President Cyril Ramaphosa - The Presidency
Diko sums up the three areas the Public Protector has outlined the president needs to follow from her remedial action outlined in her report:
- The president must take note of the findings against Pravin Gordhan outlined in the Public Protector's report
- He must implement appropriate disciplinary action
- He must submit his plan within 30 days on how he plans to implement the above two points.
The Public Protector has not given the president a specific deadline of when he must take this appropriate disciplinary action.— Khusela Diko, Spokesperson to President Cyril Ramaphosa - The Presidency
The president has complied and submitted the implementation plan as requested, confirms Diko.
She explains the matter of Ghordan not having an 'employment relationship' with the president and therefore not being able to hold a disciplinary hearing, regarding this matter, an issue he has taken to the courts to clarify.
So beyond removing Minister Gordhan from Cabinet, which is the president's prerogative to do, how else can this disciplinary action be understood and he is waiting for the court's direction.— Khusela Diko, Spokesperson to President Cyril Ramaphosa - The Presidency
As much as the president respects the office of the Public Protector, he respects the courts as well and will await their outcome.— Khusela Diko, Spokesperson to President Cyril Ramaphosa - The Presidency
We find it quite unfortunate that while the president has complied with her remedial action regarding the implementation plan, there is still this impression created that he is disregarding her remedial action.— Khusela Diko, Spokesperson to President Cyril Ramaphosa - The Presidency
The president has communicated with Mkhwebane saying perhaps she misunderstood his correspondence with her, says Diko.
Listen to Khuselo Diko's interview below: