Moyane: Ramaphosa blinked first, 'sanity has prevailed'

(David Harrison/M&G)

(David Harrison/M&G)

Suspended South African Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Tom Moyane said on Monday that in his stand-off with President Cyril Ramaphosa, the president had “blinked” — by responding to his demand that two parallel Sars processes should not run at the same time.

Moyane has been concerned that his disciplinary inquiry, where he faces several charges of misconduct, under senior counsel Azhar Bham was running alongside a commission of inquiry into the administration of Sars under retired judge Robert Nugent.

Moyane had previously written to Ramaphosa asking him to suspend either one or both of the inquiries or face legal action this week. Ramaphosa had replied to his letter, but had not agreed to his demands.

Moyane also requested that Professor Michael Katz be removed from assisting Nugent in the inquiry looking into tax administration and governance at Sars, because Katz had a close relationship with the president.

Speaking through his lawyer Eric Mabuza at a press briefing, Moyane revealed that Ramaphosa had said he would give his answer to Moyane “once he has had the benefit of the consideration of the ruling of Advocate [Azhar] Bham in relation to the matter”. 

READ MORE: Moyane’s SARS ultimatum to Ramaphosa

Mabuza said Ramaphosa replied on Friday through the state attorney’s office in a letter that he described as a “breath of fresh air”, adding that “sanity has prevailed”.

Mabuza said that Ramaphosa had reasoned that the same issues Moyane raised with him, and previously with Judge Nugent, had been also raised with Bham but had not yet been argued and decided upon at that platform.

Mabuza commended Ramaphosa’s cautious approach to await Bham’s ruling on the objections he raised which will be argued on July 21.

“To put it in colloquial terms the president blinked first,” said Mabuza. “The letter we sent to the president was very specific, had the president not complied then we would have gone to court”.

“What the president has realised is that the two processes are in fact one, [he] has consolidated the two processes himself”.

Moyane wrote to Ramaphosa on July 2 after Judge Nugent dismissed his demands on the same day on the grounds that “none of the demands were competent on law”.

At the briefing Mabuza also raised his grievances about the unfairness and injustice that his client has had to face in the past three months since his suspension. These include biased leading evidence from disgruntled employees, a trial by media, media leaks from the highest office in the land to embedded journalists and doctored audio tapes.

According to Mabuza, a leaked recording of Moyane telling a Sars official — Helgard Lombard — not come to work but rather say he is sick to avoid being questioned by Sars officials, was doctored to show his client in a bad light.

Using the recording as an example of the “unlawfully obtained evidence” Moyane has had to contend with Mabuza told journalists:

“Had you listened to that recording properly with a forensic ear you would have heard that Moyane thanks the gentleman, as a journalist I would have expected you to ask the question what was he thanking him for? I didn’t see that in your reporting.

READ MORE: How Moyane led Sars to brink of ruin

“You would have [also] noticed that in that recording Moyane says ‘you can go to the KPMG inquiry another time’. I am not saying you must take his side all I am saying is you must report fairly and truthfully” said Mabuza. He added that he would provide proof at the disciplinary inquiry that the recording was doctored.

The charges which Moyane will answer to in the disciplinary include his role in the controversial Gupta VAT payouts and the way he handled allegations against former Sars chief operations officer Jonas Makwakwa

Read Ramaphosa’s July 5 response to Moyane below:

Tebogo Tshwane

Tebogo Tshwane

Tebogo Tshwane is an Adamela Trust financial journalism trainee at the Mail & Guardian. She was previously a general news intern at Eyewitness News and a current affairs show presenter at the Voice of Wits FM. Tshwane is passionate about socioeconomic issues and understanding how macroeconomic activities affect ordinary people. She holds a journalism honours degree from Wits University.  Read more from Tebogo Tshwane

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