Tom Moyane
Tom Moyane

President Cyril Ramaphosa has flatly refused to withdraw his decision to fire Tom Moyane as SA Revenue Services (Sars) commissioner.

This means that Moyane will now take the matter to court. His lawyer, Eric Mabuza, said on Monday that his legal team was working as quickly as possible to take legal action to protect his rights.

In his letter to Ramaphosa, Mabuza indicated that he would take legal action to block the president from appointing a successor to Moyane.

"We will have to take whatever action that is necessary, to protect Mr Moyane's rights," Mabuza told Business Day  on Monday.

In a terse letter responding to Moyane's demand to Ramaphosa to reverse his termination of service, the state attorney says it had been advised that the president would not withdraw the notice to Moyane.

Ramaphosa fired Moyane on November 1 after months of back and forth with the embattled former tax boss fighting the disciplinary process against him, as well as the Sars commission of inquiry to get to the bottom of an over R100bn hole in revenue collection over the last four years, under Moyane's watch.

Ramaphosa had agreed with a recommendation by retired judge Robert Nugent, who chaired the Sars inquiry, to fire Moyane.

Acting commissioner Mark Kingon will continue in the role until Ramaphosa makes a permanent appointment. In response to this, Moyane gave Ramaphosa until Friday last week to reinstate him, arguing that his axing was unlawful.

He threatened to approach the courts for urgent relief should Ramaphosa fail to reinstate him to his post.

Before his axing Moyane lodged papers in the Constitutional Court to compel Ramaphosa to halt one of the two processes — the disciplinary inquiry against him or the Nugent inquiry.

Ramaphosa, in an affidavit to the court a day after axing Moyane, argued that his application was moot since he had already fired the embattled tax boss. 

Business Day understands that there are individuals whose names have been raised to replace Moyane. These include former auditor-general Terence Nombembe, Sars senior official Hlengani Mathebula, former Sars chief officer Nathaniel Mabetwa, former Sars COO Edward Kieswetter and former deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay.

Kingon's acting role expires in mid-December, unless it is extended by finance minister Tito Mboweni for a further 90 days. 

The Nugent inquiry is expected to submit its final report to Ramaphosa by November 30. It is expected to make recommendations to the president on strengthening the process to appoint a Sars commissioner.