President Cyril Ramaphosa has dismissed at length suspended South African Revenue Service commissioner Tom Moyane’s objections to the procedural fairness of his disciplinary hearing.
In a 30-page affidavit submitted by Ramaphosa, the president outlines why the procedures are fair, despite several complaints laid by Moyane. The inquiry is set to take place on Saturday.
“In fact, as will become apparent below, the Terms of Reference signed by the President go beyond what is strictly necessary in order to ensure fairness to Mr Moyane,” the affidavit reads.
A key sticking point has been over Moyane’s desire to make oral representations. In a formal legal objection, Moyane has argued that the procedure is “manifestly oppressive” in its exclusion of oral evidence, except where the chairperson expressly requires it.
“Mr Moyane’s complaint that the Terms of Reference present oral evidence as the ‘exception rather than the rule’ is without foundation,” Ramaphosa says in the affidavit.
Ramaphosa dismisses as “trite” Moyane’s desire to “dictate the procedure to be followed”. “Also trite, is that Mr Moyane has no entitlement to a process akin to a criminal trial, as he appears to believe,” the affidavit adds.
According to Ramaphosa, the procedure aims to limit “unduly over-judicialising the process”. Additionally, the president argues, it aims to be “as focused and speedy as possible”.
Ramaphosa stresses the urgency of the inquiry, given SARS’ critical role in collecting revenue. It is crucial to ensure credibility and stability in the tax agency’s leadership, he argues. “The stakes, frankly, could not be higher. Mr Moyane, as Commissioner of SARS, ought to have a keen appreciation of this.”
However, Ramaphosa accuses Moyane of “sabotaging the speedy conclusion” of his disciplinary inquiry by refusing to answer the allegations against him until “technical points” are resolved.
“A sixty-nine page affidavit, which sets out all the facts and evidence relied upon in substantiation of the charges against Mr Moyane, has been delivered. If, as Mr Moyane has stated repeatedly in correspondence through his attorney, he seeks to clear his name as a matter of urgency, one would have expected him to have answered to the substance of the allegations contained in the affidavit. Doing so would of course not preclude Mr Moyane from raising any alleged procedural (or other) unfairness in the proceedings at a later stage,” the affidavit states.
Instead of defending himself, Ramaphosa says, “Mr Moyane’s submissions are littered with sarcastic, insulting and disparaging comments” on Corruption Watch, Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan and others, which Ramaphosa argues are inappropriate.
The inquiry is likely to be a showdown between Ramaphosa and the beleaguered Moyane, who was suspended in March.
Ramaphosa cited a “deterioration in public confidence in the institution and in public finances being compromised” among several reasons for his ouster.
The hearing, led by Advocate Azhar Bham, was initiated by Ramaphosa following his removal. His lawyer, Eric Mabuza, says the hearing will be held in Johannesburg.
Moyane, who was appointed by former president Jacob Zuma as SARS commissioner, came under fire for his running of the tax service, including his handling of suspected cases of mismanagement and payment of tax refunds.
His conduct has also been a subject of investigation for the Nugent Commission of Inquiry, tasked with probing issues of tax administration and governance at SARS. There were initial objections to the process running concurrently with his disciplinary inquiry. Hearings in the Nugent Commission of inquiry are not scheduled until August.
His legal team had written to Ramaphosa demanding that one or both of the inquiries be halted or called off. — Fin 24