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10/07/2018 04:45 SAST | Updated 10/07/2018 04:45 SAST

Tom Moyane Uses JZ's Tricks And Tactics In Fight With Ramaphosa

Suspended Sars commissioner Tom Moyane has clearly learnt from the best on how to shout from the top of your lungs that you want your day in court, but then doing everything in your power to prevent it.

Tom Moyane, suspended commissioner of Sars.
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Tom Moyane, suspended commissioner of Sars.

Suspended SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Tom Moyane has clearly learnt from the best on how to shout from the top of your lungs that you want your day in court, but then doing everything in your power to prevent it.

That much was clear from the so-called "press conference" that was held at the Wanderers Protea Hotel on Monday in which Moyane, suited up next to his lawyer, Eric Mabuza, never uttered a word. Instead, Mabuza used the opportunity to lambaste journalists for not being objective, too close to the story or holding personal grudges rather than giving Moyane an opportunity to speak and be interrogated on what he says.

But what Moyane fails to acknowledge, even though he quite clearly is front and centre of the Nugent inquiry, is that the terms of reference as published in the Government Gazette on 24 May 2018 never refers to him once.

Moyane believes that President Cyril Ramaphosa did not "apply his mind properly" when he instituted a commission of inquiry into affairs at Sars and the fact that it will run concurrently with his disciplinary proceedings is prejudicial to him. His and the EFF's efforts (EFF chairperson Dali Mpofu is Moyane's advocate) to knock retired Judge Robert Nugent and the commission into submission failed spectacularly last week while Ramaphosa shows no inclination to divert the disciplinary hearing from its set course.

But what Moyane fails to acknowledge, even though he quite clearly is front and centre of the Nugent inquiry, is that the terms of reference as published in the Government Gazette on May 24 this year never refers to him once and that the president already committed to an investigation into Sars in his maiden state of the nation address in February. Certainly Moyane has much to hide, given the dismantling of Sars' investigation units, the discontinuation of specialist functions like the Large Business Centre, the reorganisation of organograms and his handling of the Jonas Makwakwa affair. Add to that the under-collecting of tax over the last two years and Moyane sure has some explaining to do.

Moyane does not have the deep pockets of the state with which to appeal like Zuma did, but he made it clear he will follow Zuma's example.

His tactics, however, are pretty clear and it's straight out of his benefactor — former president Jacob Zuma's — textbook: block, obfuscate and frustrate the process. Zuma was dismissed by then-president Thabo Mbeki in 2005, soon after his great friend Schabir Shaik was found guilty on charges of corruption and money-laundering. That was 13 years ago, and we're only now getting to a stage where a trial date might conceivably come into the equation. In the meantime, Zuma — who became president, Moyane patently will not — used every legal avenue available to him to prevent him from getting his day in court, although he often loudly protested that was the only thing he wanted.

Moyane does not have the deep pockets of the state with which to appeal like Zuma did, but he made it clear he will follow Zuma's example. When his faithful friend and advocate Mpofu made representations to Nugent last week he offered nothing to contradict testimony that was put forward earlier, even though he said his client could do so. And at Monday's press conference, it was the same: Mabuza doing the talking and saying Moyane can disprove much of what has been said... but then not doing it.

The commissioner of Sars has no desire to appear in front of Nugent or to let the disciplinary hearing go ahead without trying to torpedo it on procedural grounds. Moyane, like Zuma, will do anything to evade having to deal with evidence and examination. Much like efforts in the U.S. to discredit the investigation into the Trump White House's ties with Russia by slagging the investigative press and the investigative officer, Moyane has elected to build his defence by claiming procedural prejudice and attacking journalists. And it's easy to see why: the Sars drama has been running since 2014, in this country almost a lifetime ago. There have been claims and counterclaims about the so-called "rogue unit", investigations were discredited and resuscitated and bureaucrats and officials have come and gone. Who can keep track of it all? Moyane will bank on this collective amnesia and fatigue when he tries to court the public with tales of woe.

Moyane's future, however, won't be decided by a popular showing of hands or by an assault of bots or trolls on Twitter, but based on evidence and public testimony. And given what's already in the public domain it doesn't look good for the former commissioner of prisons.