Malema vows to ‘expose’ Sars

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema says the South African Revenue Service is being manipulated by Cabinet ministers and other senior government officials to deal with political opponents of President Jacob Zuma.

Malema, who recently formed the radical left EFF following his expulsion from the ANC, was reacting to last Friday's decision by Sars to reveal sensitive information about how he had failed to submit his income tax returns and register his family trust for tax purposes.

"I am being treated as a special case. Rules do not apply to me," Malema told the Mail & Guardian this week.

Malema has been engaged in a low-intensity war with Sars for some time now since it claimed that he owed R16-million in tax. Sars has attached some of Malema's properties to recoup the debt, including his half-built mansion in Johannesburg and a farm in Limpopo.

Malema believes he is being targeted for holding radical views such as the expropriation of land and the nationalisation of mines and other strategic sectors of the economy.

In a scathing letter written in response to Sars making his tax woes public, Malema said that there was a powerful clique within the revenue services – which he said was led by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and a few white Afrikaner males – which was abusing state agencies to settle political scores.

He said Zuma could not argue that state resources were not being used to settle political scores because the revenue service itself was used against him before he became president.

"My activism against abuse of state institutions does not start now," said Malema.

"Ironically I defended Zuma when it was clear that state agencies, namely the Scorpions and Sars, were used against him by his political rivals. Needless to state the ongoing fiasco around the so-called Zuma tapes. This is a clear indication that my activism is not that of self-preservation, but a defence of our hard-fought freedom and constitutionalism. We must never as citizens lay back and watch politicians reduce our glorious achievements to a shame state."

Despite denials this week by Sars that a "secret" meeting between Malema and Sars bosses to strike a deal had taken place, Malema insisted he would produce evidence to show that the meeting had indeed been held at Sars offices.

The meeting had apparently been called by Sars to come up with a settlement regarding Malema's tax debt.

"At this particular meeting I was given a copy of a confidentiality agreement, which I signed. I am going to expose them when I release that copy," said Malema.

"In this meeting, my personal tax matters were briefly discussed in the presence of all."

He added: "In this closed session between the three of us, the details of the 'intelligence dossier' were discussed, and in what looked like their defence I was told that Zuma had a similar Sars problem and they helped him with it."

His lawyer, Tumi Mokwena, confirmed to the M&G this week that the meeting between Malema and Sars commissioners had taken place.

"I was present at the meeting. There was [Sars commissioner] Oupa Magashula [who has since resigned], [deputy commissioner] Ivan Pillay, Julius and his accountant, and myself. We [the lawyer and accountant] were asked to leave the room. They made an undertaking to settle the debt in an amicable manner," said Mokwena.

Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay denied this week that the revenue services had a secret meeting with Malema, saying he did not request any form of payment arrangement with Sars and instead attempted to dissipate assets beyond the reach of Sars.

"He didn't meet the criteria for a settlement because there was no full disclosure on his part. A condition for a settlement with Sars is to be honest and disclose. He lied about his income. He didn't submit his tax returns and he hid his assets," said Lackay.

"In a constitutional democracy like ours, tax compliance is not negotiable: you cannot attack ­public institutions, public officials or Cabinet ministers by spreading lies to try and avoid your tax ­obligations; you cannot use your social or political standing or your association with people to try and avoid your tax responsibilities," he said.

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Charles Molele
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