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Gigaba won’t appeal Gordhan-Gupta court ruling

Aug 18 2017 13:06
Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba won’t appeal a ruling by the North Gauteng High Court that dismissed an application made by his predecessor, Pravin Gordhan, seeking declaratory relief against the Guptas.

“We will abide by the court judgment,” Gigaba’s spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete told Fin24 on Friday. “The minister will not appeal the ruling.”

Treasury then said in a statement: “The minister of finance accepts and respects today’s High Court judgment on Oakbay and will not appeal it. The Minister will abide by the court judgment.”

Gordhan lodged the application in October last year after Oakbay approached him to intervene when South Africa’s top four banks, Standard Bank, ABSA, FNB and Nedbank closed its accounts. Gordhan wanted the courts to rule that he could not interfere with the banks' decisions.

While the high court dismissed Gordhan’s case with costs, the judgment does clarify the finance minister’s legal position.

It ruled that there are no laws that allow a minister to intervene in a private bank-client dispute.

“There is no statute that empowers a member of the national executive such as the minister, to intervene in a private bank-client dispute,” it said. “Neither does the Constitution confer such powers.”

However, the court viewed the application by the minister as "unnecessary".

"We hold the strong view that this application was clearly unnecessary in the circumstances of this case. Such circumstances do not warrant that the court exercises its discretion to grant the declaratory relief by pronouncing itself on an undisputed legal question, which has previously been confirmed in judgments,” said Judge Aubrey Ledwaba, who read out the order.

"It is not appropriate for a member of the National Executive to draw the judiciary into the exercise of his executive functions as evidenced in this application," the judgment read.

"To grant the minister the declaratory relief would allow the judiciary to stray into the exercise of executive functions where the circumstances do not warrant this involvement."

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