Gordhan outlines why Moyane should be fired - while president remains silent

Finance minister Pravin Gordhan.
Finance minister Pravin Gordhan.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has filed a 69-page affidavit‚ outlining the Presidency’s case for the dismissal of suspended SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane – while President Cyril Ramaphosa himself has elected to remain silent.

The misconduct inquiry against Moyane is intended to determine if Ramaphosa had a basis to lose confidence in him.

Moyane’s lawyers are already expressing their unhappiness over Gordhan’s evidence‚ which they say was provided by “someone who is totally irrelevant to this process” and has a “well-documented history of conflict with Mr Moyane”.

“It’s shocking that the affidavit came from Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and not the president‚ Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene or anyone at SARS‚” Moyane’s lawyer‚ Eric Mabuza‚ told TimesLIVE.

“Minister Gordhan had nothing to do with Mr Moyane at the time of his suspension. In relation to this matter‚ It’s inexplicable that he would depose to this affidavit. It was the president’s responsibility to do so.

“This is actually a bit of a joke‚ particularly given that nowhere in Minister Gordhan’s affidavit does he explain why Ramaphosa has lost confidence in Moyane. That’s the only issue on the table.”

Gordhan however maintains that – as the former minister of finance before his unceremonious removal by then president Jacob Zuma – he has “personal knowledge of the facts” in relation to the charges against Moyane.

“The documents and correspondence relevant…were within my custody and control during that time”‚ he says. In the affidavit he filed today‚ Gordhan details the four misconduct charges against the tax boss – which relate largely to his handling of the corruption allegations against his former second-in-command Jonas Makwakwa‚ alleged dishonesty to Parliament and interference in the SARS “Rogue Unit” investigation.

That investigation saw Gordhan himself briefly charged by the National Prosecuting Authority over the granting of early retirement to former SARS commissioner Ivan Pillay. That case was withdrawn after the state conceded that it had been unaware of crucial evidence that exonerated Gordhan.

The allegations against Moyane‚ detailed by Gordhan‚ include: - That he “grossly mishandled” the Financial Intelligence Centre report‚ given to him in May 2016‚ about “suspicious transactions” involving SARS chief officer for business and individual tax Jonas Makwakwa and his girlfriend‚ Kelly Ann Elskie.

The FIC referred the report to SARS to determine whether there was evidence that the pair were involved in tax evasion‚ money-laundering‚ corruption and/or violations of the PFMA. - That this alleged gross mishandling involved Moyane failing to take “any rational or effective action” in response to the report and failing to report “promptly or at all the report’s “serious” allegations to then minister of finance Pravin Gordhan or the Hawks.

That Moyane disclosed the contents of the FIC report to both Makwakwa and Elskie‚ and then allowed them to keep rendering services to SARS.

Moyane also stands accused of repeatedly asking the FIC to provide information to the pair’s lawyers about the allegations against them when he “ought to have known” they were not entitled to that information.

That‚ only after the FIC report was published by the Sunday Times in September 2016‚ Moyane approved and signed off terms of reference for an investigation that were “wholly inadequate to ensure an effective investigation into the Report”.

That he failed to ensure that SARS conducted a tax evasion investigation into Makwakwa and Elskie‚ and failed to ensure that investigators Price Waterhouse Coopers were given access to the pair’s issued cell phones and computers‚ as well as accounting records and bank accounts crucial to their investigation.

That in November 2017‚ he lifted Makwakwa’s suspension and allowed him to return to work “notwithstanding the pending investigations and inconclusive investigations in respect of many of the issues raised in the Report”.

That Moyane’s “gross mishandling” of the FIC report “bought SARS into disrepute and caused serious damage to the credibility and legitimacy of the institution”.

That‚ between July 2016 and November 2017‚ Moyane took a decision to pay “performance bonuses” to managerial employees of SARS without the approval of then Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

This caused the Auditor-General to find SARS guilty of “internal control deficiency and irregular expenditure‚ causing reputational harm to the institution”.

That Moyane misled Parliament twice: once in relation to the investigation into Makwakwa‚ and‚ in March this year‚ by claiming that he had no involvement in SARS procurement processes “whilst knowing this not to be true”.

That‚ on May 7 2015‚ he instructed SARS official Helgaard Lombard not to cooperate with the KPMG investigation into the SARS High-Risk Investigation Unit (the so-called “Rogue Unit”) by “instructing Mr Lombard to feign illness on the day he was scheduled to be questioned”.

Moyane maintains he is innocent of these charges‚ and will plead not guilty.

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