Former SA Revenue service boss Tom Moyane wants to use the state capture commission of inquiry to ”rehabilitate himself” and his career prospects, the commission heard on Wednesday.
Advocate Michelle Le Roux, arguing for public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan against Moyane’s application for leave to cross-examine the minister, said the former commissioner failed to set a foundation identifying aspects in Gordhan’s evidence that he disagrees with and grounds for that.
If we understand the purpose of a cross-examination before you, this application should be denied in its entirety. My learned friend [Mpofu] accepts that there is no automatic right to this, and that that is your discretion…what he failed to address is the test that the regulation and rules set for the exercise of that discretion,” Le Roux said.
Moyane, said Le Roux, wants to resuscitate the Sars rogue unit narrative and try to reverse his removal that stemmed from the damning Nugent commission’s report.
”Is it necessary…and does it progress the commission’s work if it digresses into the issues listed in Mr Moyane’s application? We would submit it does not. He wants to resuscitate the so-called rogue unit narrative and traverse his removal as commissioner of Sars. The language of his founding affidavit is quite extreme if not hysterical…he talks about Mr Gordhan having a vendetta [against him] and that it is the minister’s life’s work to remove him. Of course, as minister testified, his life’s work has been to work for a non-racial, non-sexist free South Africa.”
Moyane was fired by President Cyril Ramaphosa as per the recommendation of the inquiry into Sars governance issues, chaired by retired Judge Robert Nugent.
The probe found that found that Moyane was reckless in his management of Sars, recommending further that the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) investigate whether Moyane should face fraud charges for making false representations that led to the appointment of Boston-based consultancy firm Bain & Co to draft a new business plan for the revenue service.
Last month, Moyane suffered another blow in his quest to be reinstated when the Constitutional Court denied him leave to appeal a court ruling dismissing an earlier challenge to his dismissal.
Le Roux said Sars-related issues raised by Moyane were as a result of the completed Nugent probe which investigated and submitted its report to Ramaphosa, adding that Moyane’s application amounted to asking the commission to ”redo and review” Nugent’s investigation.
”Nugent looked at this issue of the rogue unit and concluded that there was no such a thing…that there was no basis in saying an unlawful unit was established at Sars. Nugent recommended that the investigative unit be re-established at Sars with powers to investigate illicit trading and look into the tax affairs of politically prominent people…and we know that is what is taking place. He goes at length how Sunday Times articles were fabricating reports, resulting in an apology and a retraction.”
Commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Zondo disagreed with Le Roux’s suggestion that Moyane is asking the commission to reverse the Nugent probe.
”Putting it like that is perhaps not accurate…what may be accurate is that we look into the same issues Judge Nugent looked at…without labelling it a redo or review,” said Zondo.
Le Roux replied: ”Yes, you are certainly being asked to come to the opposite conclusion to that of Nugent…you are being asked to find that there was a rogue unit, Nugent found that there was not such an illegal unit at Sars. Lets assume you do this and come to a different conclusion to him [Nugent] and put that forward to the president. What is the president to do with conflicting reports from two inquiries going in different directions?” Le Roux asked.
She added that as far as she knew Moyane has not launched a review of the Nugent report.
On allegations of racism against Gordhan, Le Roux said it was not in Zondo’s interest to entertain the allegation.
”Let’s agree that you do continue on these topics – and Mr Moyane’s counsel cross-examines Minister Gordhan on his dislike of the former commissioner. How will that help you fulfil your terms of reference? This will not take your work any further…with millions of rand spent and limited time you have been given, such should not be spent on consoling Mr Moyane’s feelings… it’s not going to get you any closer to fulfilling your terms of reference.”
On Moyane advancing the EFF political campaign, Le Roux said it seemed Moyane suggested that because Gordhan was finance minister twice, and that turned him into ”a central architecture of state capture project”.
”There is no link or evidence put before you as to why Mr Moyane says that. It’s very easy to throw around allegations…its easy to throw mud and hope that it will stick on Minister Gordhan. We understand that its election season out there…we understand the political campaign against him because he testified about what he has endured and his family. But the question is – does this help the commission and is this necessary for the commission’s work to entertain outlandish and baseless political theories about Minister Gordhan? We submit that that is not the best way to spend the taxpayers’ money and your time.”
Judgment on Moyane’s application was reserved.