Gordhan’s lashing of Sars official causes a stir
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.