Gord­han’s lash­ing of Sars of­fi­cial causes a stir

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - BONGANI HANS

FI­NANCE Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han has come un­der fire from the Pro­gres­sive Pro­fes­sion­als Fo­rum (PPF) for de­mand­ing ac­tion against a se­nior SA Rev­enue Ser­vice of­fi­cial who “risked the coun­try’s in­vest­ment pro­file by at­tack­ing rat­ing agen­cies in the me­dia”.

The PPF is led by Mzwanele Manyi, who has pre­vi­ously ex­pressed un­hap­pi­ness about Gord­han.

Gord­han voiced dis­plea­sure about Sars group ex­ec­u­tive man­ager for em­ploy­ment re­la­tions Luther Le­belo’s let­ter in Busi­ness Day last year.

The let­ter was pub­lished in Novem­ber, be­fore Stan­dard & Poor’s an­nounced its rat­ing of South Africa last month. He de­scribed the rat­ing agen­cies as “gangs” used by Europe and the US “to whip us into line”.

Gord­han felt Le­belo’s com­ment, which he made as a mem­ber of the PPF, war­ranted Sars to take ac­tion against him. Le­belo ac­cused the agen­cies of “colo­nial and apartheid” tac­tics in deal­ing with de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

He said the agen­cies had tamed the ANC-led gov­ern­ment in such a way that it could not ad­dress the is­sues of un­em­ploy­ment, poverty, in­equal­ity, land­less­ness and home­less­ness.

The DA fi­nance spokesper­son, David Maynier, wrote to Par­lia­ment about Le­belo’s views, and Gord­han is­sued a re­ply, in which he said Le­belo’s com­ments were likely to cost the coun­try its “in­vest­ment grad­ing”. Gord­han said this was likely to lead to a worse sit­u­a­tion that would af­fect the dis­ad­van­taged, par­tic­u­larly if in­ter­est rates rose.

“Fi­nally, his let­ter to the me­dia in­di­cates clearly that he writes in two ca­pac­i­ties – one of which is ‘group ex­ec­u­tive of em­ploy­ment re­la­tions, Sars’,” said Gord­han. “The Sars man­age­ment must ac­count for their lack of ac­tion in this mat­ter.”

The PPF yes­ter­day de­fended Le­belo, say­ing he should be al­lowed to “en­joy the right of free­dom of speech”.

The fo­rum said in­stead of con­cern­ing him­self with Le­belo, Gord­han should “fo­cus on co-or­di­nat­ing macroe­co­nomic pol­icy and pro­mot­ing the na­tional pol­icy frame­work”.

“The PPF’s view is that Min­is­ter Gord­han is pan­der­ing to the DA and white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal (and) is in­ter­fer­ing with the op­er­a­tion of Sars by in­di­rectly in­struct­ing the man­age­ment of Sars to take ac­tion against Mr Le­belo,” it said.

“The PPF will de­fend all its mem­bers and any black ex­ec­u­tive who is per­se­cuted to ap­pease the in­ter­est of white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal, its ben­e­fi­cia­ries and prox­ies.

“Mr Le­belo will not be si­lenced for speak­ing in his in­di­vid­ual ca­pac­ity or on be­half of PPF.”

Sars could not be reached for com­ment at the time of pub­li­ca­tion.

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