Gordhan has warned of a second agenda at play in several government institutions
QUESTIONS THE HAWKS WANT PRAVIN GORDHAN TO ANSWER
National Treasury and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan equate an effort by the Hawks to destabilise it ahead of the tabling of this week’s budget speech as a second attempted coup on the powerhouse department. The first attempt, they believe, was in December, when ministers were dramatically reshuffled, said Treasury officials.
City Press has interviewed four sources in Treasury who characterise the events there as an attempted takeover by “shadow forces”. They agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity.
One said: “The real battle in South Africa is to retain our sovereignty and defend our institutions. To ensure they are professionally run in the public interest.”
Gordhan’s conflict with Sars commissioner Tom Moyane exploded into a national crisis on Friday as the governing ANC, the churches and the presidency went into unprecedented damage control.
They threw up a wall of unity behind National Treasury and behind Budget 2016 as it stared down the Hawks probe.
City Press has established that Gordhan did not threaten to resign over the letter sent to him by the Hawks, or over Moyane’s continued tenure at Sars, despite reports this week that he did.
However, Gordhan did reiterate with political leaders across ANC party and parliamentary structures that the current tax boss would be redeployed. Gordhan also warned of a second agenda at play in several institutions, government sources told City Press this week.
Gordhan’s confidants say he is too seasoned a politician to threaten to resign or to have set conditions for his reappointment in December, when the economy tanked after the shock removal of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister.
“By then, the difficulties [with Moyane] were well known,” said one treasury source, “and thus there was an unspoken expectation that Moyane would be moved.”
The enmity between Gordhan and Moyane is infamous.
Two senior Sars officials told City Press that when Gordhan arrived unannounced at the Sars headquarters the day after his reappointment as finance minister, he refused to shake Moyane’s hand when he met him in the parking lot.
The officials said Gordhan had tried to phone Moyane, but Moyane had ignored his call, and in the parking lot, Gordhan demanded to know why and Moyane said he was “busy”.
Treasury officials say that without a good relationship, tax morality and compliance is compromised. Already, the budget reflected revenues that did not hit anticipated targets because of declining growth; and there are fears that Sars has already been too destabilised to secure the collections that underpin the promises Gordhan made this week.
The commissioner of Sars is appointed by the president, but is managed by the finance minister in terms of a recent law change to protect taxpayer information.
Before the law was amended, the commissioner was appointed by the minister. Although 104 candidates applied for the post when former Sars commissioner Oupa Magashula resigned, Zuma deployed Moyane to the job when Nene was finance minister.
The questions from the Hawks emanate from an investigation into a spy unit that Moyane has pursued doggedly.
“In our view, this is a well-calculated destabilisation plan,” the ANC said about a set of questions that were sent to Gordhan a week before the budget was released.
On Friday, Gordhan said: “There is a group of people that are not interested in the economic stability of this country and the welfare of its people.
“It seems they are interested in disrupting institutions and destroying reputations.”
1 Does the minister have any knowledge of the disbandment of the National Research Group (NRG) in 2009 when you were the Sars commissioner, leading to the establishment of the High Risk Investigation Unit (HRIU) or the “rogue unit”?
2 Were there any inputs you gave for the establishment of the NRG or the HRIU? 3Who
were the stakeholders who would form part of the new unit?
4 Do you still remember yourself as the commissioner of Sars recommending the funding model to the then minister Trevor Manuel in February 2007 for “funding of an intelligence capability within National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in support of Sars”?
5 How were the members of the unit recruited/selected? Were Sars recruitment processes followed?
6 How is it possible that you recruit even before funding approval is granted for such a capability to exist?
7 Kindly share with us or provide a copy of the agreement between the NIA and Sars.
8 What were the aims and objectives [mandate] of the new unit and subsequent operating environments as it changed its name?
9 Who was heading the unit and who was it responsible and accountable to? 10Who
were Janse van Rensburg, Johan de Waal, Johan van Loggerenberg and Helgard Lombard at Sars, and what were their positions, roles and responsibilities within the unit?
the commissioner [accounting officer] for Sars at the time, were you briefed about all key strategic operations?
. 11.1 Do you know anything about operation code named “Sunday Evenings”? The bugging or installation of sophisticated surveillance equipment at National Prosecuting Authority offices?
. 11.2 Who authorised it? Is this in line with Sars’ mandate?
. 11.3 What were its objective and targets? 12Do
you know or still remember the HRIU mandate? 13Did
the minister of intelligence [Ronnie Kasrils] approve the establishment of and identify members of the NIA to work within HRIU? Provide evidence.
14Were there things at Sars [when you have happenedwere the without commissioner]your knowledge?that would 15Did members of HRIU appear on the Sars normal employees’ payroll? Please explain why some, if not all, unit members had two Sars identification cards [one with fake employee details].
16If this unit was operating legitimately, why were they operating from guesthouses, hotels, restaurants and their private dwellings? Further, why were they not provided with Sars laptops to store confidential information? 17How
was the funding of the unit’s operations managed? Which cost centres were employed? 18Who
was the head of the unit and who was it reporting to? 19Were
there any members of HRIU who did not have personal files at Sars? Can you tell us why, if any? 20Who
authorised the procurement of the surveillance equipment to be utilised during the unit’s operations? 21What
were Ivan Pillay’s functions at Sars from the period he started working until he retired? The functions must also include the period he was rehired after submitting an early retirement from Sars. And what are his academic qualifications?
22Do you still remember which year Ivan Pillay took an early retirement? 23Is it normal in terms of Treasury or pension fund regulations for any department to accept its employee’s early retirement?
24Why did you authorise that Sars must pay Ivan Pillay an early retirement penalty to the tune of R1.2 million?
explain why Sars reemployed Ivan Pillay for three years and then extended his contract to five years. In short, he was offered an additional eight-year employment contract – why?
believe you are aware of the KPMG forensic investigations into the existence of a rogue unit at Sars. Do you perhaps have a clue as to why such an investigation is conducted?
the minister of finance receive the KPMG report? If yes, have you read it since you took office, or did you request to be briefed about its contents by the deputy minister or the commissioner? Have you made any contact with Judge Kroon, the chair of Sars’ advisory board on this matter, who is supposed to advise both yourself and the commissioner?
AT THE TOP Jacob Zuma
PINK POWER About 1 000 condom-like pink inflatable rings were given away yesterday on Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach as
part of a stay-safe campaign going by the theme of Lifesavers. The event aimed to promote safe sex in the lead-up to the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, set to take place on Saturday