File photo of President Jacob Zuma in Parliament. Picture: REUTERS
File photo of President Jacob Zuma in Parliament. Picture: REUTERS

Former president Jacob Zuma  “appeared reluctant to personally intervene” in the war between public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan and Tom Moyane, and  “end the hostility and lack of accountability’’ from the now axed commissioner of the SA Revenue Service (Sars). 

This is  what Gordhan has said in his submission to the commission of inquiry into state capture, chaired by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa told the Constitutional Court last week that he had fired Moyane  as recommended by retired judge Robert Nugent, who chairs a commission of inquiry into Sars, in the best interests of the tax body and the SA economy.

Ramaphosa said it is now apparent that Sars, under Moyane’s leadership, withheld VAT refunds from taxpayers in an effort to disguise how serious its revenue collection shortfalls actually were.

Moyane maintains that he was the best Sars commissioner in the history of democratic SA  and the findings made against him by Nugent are partof a politically motivated “witch hunt”.

Now Moyane’s lawyers are contemplating whether they will apply to cross-examine Gordhan about his testimony to the Zondo inquiry, in which he portrays Moyane as a key player in a politically driven campaign to force him to resign and strongly suggests he was complicit in the “capture” of Sars. 

“Reflecting on the period [from] 2009 to 2017 now, it would appear that I was witness to events … and it seems an unwitting member of an executive in the earlier part of this period, which was misled, lied to, manipulated and abused in order to benefit a few families and individuals, release the worst forms of recklessness and corruption, rob ordinary people of schools, clinics and education, abuse and decimate key institutions of our democracy including Sars, the Hawks, NPA [National Prosecuting Authority], SOEs like Eskom, Denel, Transnet etc; and damage the economy, increasing joblessness, forsaking the youth and increasing the marginalisation of women,” Gordhan says in his submission. 

He says he was a victim of the capture of the Hawks, which motivated for his criminal prosecution over an early retirement deal given to former deputy Sars commissioner Ivan Pillay. The case, which was initiated by Moyane following later discredited reports of a so-called rogue unit at Sars, was dropped by the NPA days before Gordhan was due to appear in court.

Gordhan also reveals how Zuma attorney Michael Hulley “attempted to mediate the dispute” between him and Moyane on the then president’s behalf. 

He says he told Zuma he “objected” to the Hawks’s attempts to charge him with crimes linked to the “rogue unit” investigation.

“During that meeting, I objected strongly about this persecution and asked former president Zuma whether political activists like myself must now prepare to be eliminated during the democratic era even though we had survived the oppression of the security police in the apartheid era.

“In response to my objection, he [Zuma] merely flipped through the pages of the letter [sent by the Hawks to Gordhan]. He said he would discuss the matter with then minister of police Nkosinathi Nhleko. I received no information from the former president in this regard subsequent to this meeting.”

Gordhan says the aborted attempt to charge him “was the beginning of what appeared to be a campaign to force me to resign as minister of finance and continue the efforts to capture the National Treasury thereafter”.

He also says that he raised alarm bells over Moyane’s leadership when Zuma reappointed him as finance minister in December 2015, following the former president’s disastrous decision to fire Nhlanhla Nene and replace him — for four days — with Des van Rooyen.

Gordhan says he told Zuma that Moyane’s “role at the Sars’’  was one of three concerns he had that needed to be “discussed by us and resolved as soon as possible”. The other two were the proposed nuclear deal and the “ongoing dire financial predicament of SAA and, specifically, the role of the chief of the board, Ms Dudu Myeni”.

None of those issues, it would appear, were resolved when Zuma fired Gordhan in 2017, citing a “fake intelligence” report as a basis for accusing him of involvement in alleged financial treason.

Moyane’s attorney, Eric Mabuza, said the former commissioner had not been notified that he was implicated by Gordhan’s statement, nor had he received a copy of it. 

“If and when we are informed that the commission considers Mr Moyane to be implicated by minister Gordhan’s testimony, we will certainly consider applying to cross-examine him. This is particularly [so] given the nature of the relationship between Moyane and Gordhan.”

Should Moyane apply for the right to cross-examine Gordhan, he himself will be expected to testify.