Defiant Economic Freedom Fighters' (EFF) leader Julius Malema has sworn to fight his provisional sequestration, declaring the court challenge a political attack.
"I am going to Parliament," he told the Mail & Guardian on Monday soon after the Judge Bill Prinsloo ordered that the young political leader be placed in provisional liquidation.
Malema and anyone else who did not want the order to be made final had until 10am on May 26 to give reasons as to why this should not happen.
"I will continue to challenge it up to the Constitutional Court because this is a political game," Malema said. "Now the sequestration is a last attack: they think that through sequestration they will prevent me from participating in Parliament. Like it or not they can see me there. I’m going to appeal that decision."
According to court documents, Malema owed R16-million plus interest, after failing to submit tax returns between 2006 and 2010.
Section 47(c) of the Constitution prevents rehabilitated insolvents from serving as members of Parliament, a provision that could thwart Malema's political ambitions in his new incarnation as EFF commander-in-chief.
EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi released a statement shortly after the news stating that the provisional liquidation did not disqualify him to stand for public office, "as some sections of the media suggested". But a legal expert told the M&G that a provisional liquidation has the same legal binding as a permanent liquidation, referring to section 2 of the Insolvency Act that states that a "sequestration order means any order of court whereby an estate is sequestrated and includes a provisional order, when it has not been set aside".
Under that definition the constitutional prohibition on insolvents serving as MPs stands.
But Malema insists the missing tax can be accounted for.
"The taxes they are asking me to pay are contributions from individuals who have paid donation tax on those contributions. And I've argued for a very long time that you can't tax the same income twice. The donors have owned up to it and have paid. Sars still wants me to pay even when people have paid the donation tax."
Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay said the argument was a "deliberate misrepresentation" of Malema's tax situation, which has no legal standing.
"If an organisation receives a donation as a registered pubic beneficiary organisation than yes a percentage of the donation can be claimed back from Sars," said Lackay.
Malema, however, was at pains to note that he would obey the law if push came to shove.
"At the end if all courts say to me you are sequestrated, no problem," he said. "I will come here to EFF full-time, here at the people's Parliament, and run the revolution here."
He added that he did not get into politics to go into Parliament, pointing out that he turned down a list nomination while in the ANC. "I said I wanted to remain at the office and strengthen the ANC Youth League."
A final sequestration ruling would be an opportunity for the leader, who has capitalised on the service delivery protests across the country, to spread his message of nationalisation and radical economic policies.
"If I am sequestrated and denied that opportunity to go to Parliament, I will be all over the protests. I will have all the time to lead the protests in South Africa – there is no problem.
“You can’t sequestrate me from being a political leader from a political organisation.”
Malema served as the ANC's Youth League president until April 2012 when he was expelled.
In 2010, Sars contacted Malema about his failure to submit tax returns.
It took Malema 18 months, after many attempts by Sars, to file his outstanding returns. Malema also failed to register the Ratanang Trust for tax purposes, and Sars had to do this on his behalf.
Sars attached some of Malema's property to recoup the taxes he owed. – Additional reporting by Sapa