/ 28 March 2019

Manuel hits back at EFF over Kieswetter appointment

Trevor Manuel
Trevor Manuel (Paul Botes/M&G)

Trevor Manuel has demanded that the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) retract its statement alleging that he has a corrupt relation with newly appointed South Afrcian Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Edward Kieswetter, saying he will not be abused by “schoolyard bullies”.

Manuel warned of court action over the statement.

Manuel chaired the panel appointed by the national treasury to conduct interviews for the position of Sars commissioner. Before Kieswetter was announced as the new Sars boss, the EFF issued a statement threatening to challenge the decision in court. The statement from the EFF — signed off by party spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi — said the party sent questions to President Cyril Ramaphosa to ask why the SARS commissioner was appointed in “secret”.

READ MORE: EFF launches pre-emptive strike against Kieswetter

The EFF now wants the process to be “reopened”.

Treasury initiated the process to appoint the Sars commissioner, which included public adverts. Thereafter, a shortlist was compiled and interviews were conducted by the panel chaired by Manuel. The recommendations from the panel were then made to Ramaphosa, who discussed the decision to appoint Kieswetter with his Cabinet colleagues on Wednesday.

The Sars Act does not prescribe a process to appoint the commissioner. The appointment is made by the president, for a five-year term, according to the Act.

The party alleges that Manuel and Kieswetter are “relatives”, close business associates and companions. The party said the process was corrupt and “patently nepotistic”. The Red Berets further allege that Kieswetter was “was in Sars during the time of the illegal intelligence unit”.

The EFF has defended disgraced former Sars commissioner Tom Moyane — who along with Boston-based consultancy Bain & Company — restructured Sars to neutralise its capacity and weaken the institution. Moyane was axed by President Cyril Ramaphosa in November last year.

Manuel said in his statement that the EFF is free to hold “warped political views” about a Sars commissioner, but had no right to “libellous or racist views”.

He said the EF should provide evidence for its claims that Kieswetter is related to him.

“Only a mind warped into destruction by apartheid can ever suggest blood-ties between two individuals classified Coloured by the apartheid regime, when the only connective tissue is racial classification,” he charged.

He also wants the EFF to prove that he has a business relationship with Kieswetter.

“[Ndlozi] also makes a series of scurrilous statements about Mr Kieswetter, that I am sure Mr Kieswetter can as easily refute. What I demand is a retraction, or Mr Ndlozi will have to face legal action. I will not be abused by schoolyard bullies,” Manuel said.