Natasha Marrian Political editor: Business Day
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SUPPLIED
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SUPPLIED

Suspended South African Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Tom Moyane is preparing to go to court as he continues his bid to halt efforts to uncover actions that led to the destruction of the tax agency under his watch.

Moyane’s legal team is awaiting a response from President Cyril Ramaphosa after all objections lodged by the embattled tax boss to his disciplinary inquiry were dismissed on Tuesday by its chairman, advocate Azhar Bham.

Ramaphosa will now have to weigh in on whether he will halt either the disciplinary inquiry into Moyane or the Judge Robert Nugent commission of inquiry into governance and administrative issues at SARS.

Moyane faced another blow to his attempts to have one of the two processes halted and to have former finance minister Pravin Gordhan’s affidavit about his conduct at SARS deemed inadmissible when Bham dismissed his objections, lodged through his legal team led by advocate Dali Mpofu.

Moyane’s attorney, Eric Mabuza, said the ball was now in Ramaphosa’s court and if he too responded unfavourably to Moyane’s demands, Mabuza would go to court as instructed by his client. When Mabuza asked Ramaphosa to halt one of the two inquiries, the president responded that he would await Bham’s ruling on the objections before making a decision.

This is not Moyane’s first setback in his battle against Ramaphosa. Judge Nugent rejected in July Mpofu’s bid to have the evidence heard before the inquiry expunged and for it to halt its work. Bham has now done the same, dismissing all Moyane’s objections. Barring a court challenge by Moyane, the disciplinary inquiry as well as the commission of inquiry into governance and administration at SARS can therefore proceed.

Bham in his written ruling on the objections now wants a "substantive response" from Moyane on the charges he faces by August 20.

Bham has furthermore asked parties to be available from September 17 to 28 for the disciplinary proceedings hearing.

The main issues were the right to oral evidence or cross-examination, the admissibility and content of the affidavit by Gordhan in the disciplinary matter and the "parallel inquiries" in which Moyane is at the centre.

Moyane wants to cross-examine witnesses against him. He wants Gordhan’s affidavit to be discarded and for Ramaphosa to halt one of the two processes: the disciplinary inquiry against him or the commission of inquiry into governance and administration at SARS, chaired by Judge Nugent.

In dismissing the objection over written versus oral evidence, Bham ruled Moyane had not been deprived of oral evidence as he could decide on it as the chairman of the inquiry.

He agreed with Ramaphosa’s legal team that Gordhan had the authority to depose the affidavit in Moyane’s inquiry, indicating that Gordhan had done so as a witness, which does not require statutory authority.

It did not fall within his "legal competence" to suspend the proceedings, Bham said.