Gordhan threatens to take committee to court over SIU probe

Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan has questioned the decision of the committee to ask the SIU to probe the collapsed SAA deal. Picture: David Ritchie/Independent Newspapers

Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan has questioned the decision of the committee to ask the SIU to probe the collapsed SAA deal. Picture: David Ritchie/Independent Newspapers

Published Mar 28, 2024


Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan has threatened to take the portfolio committee to court over its decision to call for the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to probe the South African Airways (SAA)-Takasto deal that fell through.

Members of the committee said Gordhan can go to court, but they were exercising their oversight role.

They said Cabinet members must understand that the role of Parliament was to oversee the Executive and not the other way around.

Ministers account to Parliament and not Parliament accounting to the executive.

The fallout over the SAA deal has dragged on for months.

Members of the committee also warned that Khaya Magaxa, who chairs the committee, must not be isolated in the saga as the department of public enterprises has said that he has malicious intentions with the call for the SIU to probe the matter.

African National Congress (ANC) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) members said the decisions taken by the committee were binding to all members and Magaxa was the chairperson of the committee.

Magaxa said he agreed with the comments by members of the committee that the role of Parliament was to perform oversight function over the Executive.

“We can only be questioned and given direction if we make mistakes by the National Assembly where we account to the speaker on this matter. If a person has a problem about our outcomes he knows what direction that person has to take,” said Magaxa.

ANC MP Thembi Siweya said the SIU will probe everyone implicated in the deal.

She said they must not ignore the threat by the department that they will challenge their decision in court.

“How do we respond to the department that as a committee we are now extending our mandate?. We must not leave it and ignore it because they are saying they are going to take it on review in court,” she said.

She also said the department must not isolate Magaxa as if he made decisions on his own. These were decisions of the committee and he was the chairperson of the committee.

Another ANC MP Nkosinathi Dlamini said he was concerned how Gordhan was responding to the process by the committee.

He said after reading Gordhan’s letter he did not think it would help to discuss the matter further. He said there was a doctrine of powers where parliament plays its oversight role over the executive.

“I want to make a comment. I have just read a letter from the minister. I don;t think it will help us to keep discussing this matter in this fashion,” said Dlamini.

“Remember colleagues, as the legislative arm in terms of doctrine of separation of powers we oversee the Executive. They don’t oversee us. We don’t account to them, and if we continue this exchange between us and the department as if the department must tell us how to conclude this matter it will not take us forward. Part of the things said in the letter are confirming the correctness of our decision.”

There were accusations and counter-accusations in this whole SAA saga and the only solution was for a competent body to investigate the allegations and make findings.

The investigating agency will be able to distinguish fact from fiction.

EFF MP Nqobile Mhlongo said if Gordhan wanted to challenge their decision in court he was free to do so.

But the committee has done its work and decided that the SIU must investigate this matter.

She said they did not like the tone of the letter from Gordhan.

She said Gordhan has been dragging his feet for months and refused to cooperate with the committee.

It took him months before he could share the documents on the sale of SAA to Takatso.

“If the minister feels he should take this to court for review the committee is more than welcome to do so. But ours is that this report must be adopted and we want the SIU to investigate. Once the SIU has investigated this report we will finally put this matter to rest,” said Mhlongo.

She said Magaxa must not be isolated from members of the committee as the decisions were taken by the committee.

Magaxa was chairing the committee and communicates its decision.

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