Lawyers for Tom Moyane claimed that President Cyril Ramaphosa has “blinked” at the demands of the suspended South African Revenue Services (Sars) commissioner that he raises all of his objections at his disciplinary hearing scheduled for July 21.
Through his lawyers, Moyane wrote to Ramaphosa asking him to either stop his disciplinary process or the inquiry into the governance of Sars, which is chaired by retired judge Robert Nugent.
Moyane’s lawyer Eric Mabuza objected to the two processes that would run concurrently.
Mabuza said Moyane was “pleased” with Ramaphosa’s decision to wait for the conclusion of the disciplinary process into his conduct at Sars, which will be chaired by Advocate Azhar Bham. “At the heart of this unnecessary impasse is one simple issue: fairness in dealing with a fellow human being… In the last three months, Moyane has had to endure every single type of unfairness,” said Mabuza at a press conference held in Johannesburg’s Illovo on Monday.
He said running two processes – the disciplinary hearing and Nugent inquiry – was “complex and confusing” as they relate to each other.
“The president realised that the two processes are one. He [Ramaphosa] realised that his options are limited and he blinked to our demands. He adopted a sensible approach by awaiting the outcome of the Bham inquiry. For the very first time sanity seems to have prevailed,” said Mabuza.
Although the press conference was described as Moyane’s attempt to address “current matters” and respond to his critics, Moyane was present and remained silent, allowing Mabuza to speak on his behalf.
According to Mabuza, Moyane would be allowed to raise his objections to the charges of misconduct he faces during the disciplinary process, and Ramaphosa would wait for the outcome of this process. Meanwhile, the Nugent inquiry into the governance of Sars will resume public hearings in August. Essentially, this buys Ramaphosa time to conclude Moyane’s disciplinary hearing before the resumption of the Nugent inquiry.
The Presidency said on Monday evening that nothing has changed regarding Moyane’s disciplinary hearing, as detailed in a letter by Ramaphosa’s attorneys. “We were confused by the response from Mr Moyane’s attorneys. The Presidency has not moved on the disciplinary process and the [Nugent] inquiry. Nothing, therefore, has been changed,” presidency spokesperson Khusela Sangoni told Moneyweb.
“The letter does not signal a move on the President’s stance as both processes will continue as they were meant to and the President will consider Mr Moyane’s objections after the decision from Bham SC,” she said.
The letter by Ramaphosa’s attorneys, dated July 5, confirms this.
“There are no public hearings scheduled in respect of the [Nugent] Commission of Inquiry until August 2018. Nor are there any hearings scheduled in respect of your client’s [Moyane’s] disciplinary inquiry save for that on July 21. There can, therefore, be no prejudice to your client if the outcome of the hearing before Advocate Bham SC is awaited in relation to this matter,” the letter reads.
If Ramaphosa didn’t concede to Moyane’s demands, his legal team would go through the court process to halt the Nugent inquiry. “Moyane is always asking for fairness in the inquiry process. It is not Stalingrad legal tactics. If seeking for fairness is Stalingrad, then so be it,” said Mabuza.
He said that since his suspension in March, Moyane has suffered from “injustice imaginable” including “verbal insults, wild and unfounded accusations, unfair suspension, and a trial by media”. Moyane and Mabuza have threatened court action against Ramaphosa on numerous occasion since he was suspended – in fact, more than three times in nearly four months.
Moyane also asked Ramaphosa to recuse Michael Katz from being an assistant to Nugent during the inquiry. Mabuza said Katz is Ramaphosa’s personal attorney, thus undermining Moyane’s right to a fair process. Ramaphosa has not acceded to this demand.
Last week, Moyane’s demands were raised before Nugent at the on-going inquiry. However, Nugent dismissed all the demands, saying he didn’t have the power or mandate to halt the inquiry as it was constituted by Ramaphosa.
Moyane was suspended in March by Ramaphosa and faces charges of misconduct over his leadership at Sars. Under Moyane, the tax agency has suffered a deterioration in public confidence and public finances have been compromised.
Moyane also faces charges over the handling of a tax-evasion investigation and allegations of suspicious deposits into the personal bank account of his former second-in-charge Jonas Makwakwa.
The Nugent inquiry heard evidence submissions that centered Moyane on the erosion of Sars’ capacity to inspect tobacco factories and a restructuring process that resulted in the exodus of senior and experienced staff. This allegedly contributed to the agency’s under-collection and a tax revenue shortfall of about R50.8 billion for the 2017/18 fiscal year.