Right of reply: Former Sars official Adrian Lackay says he was given no chance to be heard. Picture: JOHN LIEBENBERG/ SUNDAY TIMES
Right of reply: Former Sars official Adrian Lackay says he was given no chance to be heard. Picture: JOHN LIEBENBERG/ SUNDAY TIMES

The leaking of a submission by former SA Revenue Service (Sars) spokesman Adrian Lackay to parliament in 2015 about agency problems under Tom Moyane is said to have caused "huge" tension in the ANC.

Lackay, who resigned from Sars shortly before sending the submission, has criticised parliament’s standing committee on finance and the joint standing committee on intelligence for not giving him or his colleagues at Sars who were implicated in the "rogue unit" allegations an opportunity to be heard.

Yunus Carrim, chairman of parliament’s finance committee, this week denied that his committee "basically did nothing" with Lackay’s submission.

Carrim said at the time the ANC was seeking a political solution to the issues raised, which centred on the "disinformation campaign" alleging a "covert intelligence, rogue" and ostensibly illegal and unlawful investigative unit in the agency.

While we were … finalising the parameters of the respective committees’ roles, Mr Lackay’s correspondence was publicly released, causing huge tensions within the ANC and the committee.
Yunus Carrim

At the time, former president Jacob Zuma was at the height of his political power with a firm grip on intelligence and criminal justice institutions.

Zuma appointed his close ally Moyane to head Sars, one of the government agencies central to the state-capture project, in September 2014.

At the commission of inquiry into tax administration, headed by retired judge Robert Nugent, Zuma was identified as one of the actors in the dismantling of Sars along with Moyane.

It has been a long and bitter three years for those implicated in allegations of a high-risk investigation unit called the "rogue unit".

The Nugent inquiry was told last week that the unit was, in fact, not unlawful.

Sars and Moyane last week withdrew a civil claim for R12m against Lackay for speaking to the committees in parliament about problems at the tax-collecting organisation.

Carrim said he had exchanges with Lackay and joint standing committee on intelligence chair Connie September after receiving the former spokesman’s submission.

After speaking to September and others they had developed a "complementary division of labour" between the joint intelligence committee and the finance committee. But almost all of the issues raised by Lackay fell under the joint standing committee on intelligence, Carrim said.

He also stressed at the time that the committee could not serve as tribunal or commission but was committed to contributing to an amicable solution to the issues raised.

"While we were … finalising the parameters of the respective committees’ roles, Mr Lackay’s correspondence was publicly released, causing huge tensions within the ANC and the committee," Carrim said.

"At the time, there were allegations and counter-allegations around the so-called rogue intelligence unit, and in that world of smoke and mirrors we did not want to be used by anybody," he said.

His committee could not have done much more to deal with Lackay’s concern in the circumstances, Carrim said.

"Mr Lackay is entitled to his view that we could have done more, but he’s certainly not entitled to make false claims that we did nothing," Carrim said.

Lackay said in response that he had not stated or implied that the committee chairpersons "did nothing".

"The reality is that neither I nor any of the former Sars colleagues were provided an opportunity to be heard by any of the committees," Lackay said.

"In October 2018, that still remains profoundly regrettable," said Lackay.

quintalg@businesslive.co.za