The loss of a crucial court challenge by former SA Revenue Service (Sars) chief Tom Moyane is a devastating blow to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s opponents within the ANC and senior state officials hell-bent on frustrating the president’s anti-corruption crusade, experts have said.
Political analyst Dirk Kotze said the Moyane matter was significant to the Jacob Zuma camp, who were desperate to have the official stay put at the helm of Sars.
According to Kotze the ruling by the High Court in Pretoria marked the beginning of the end for Moyane and those he represented.
As it was the first high-profile legal case in which a senior state official and a staunch Zuma supporter directly challenged Ramaphosa, it became an important victory for Ramaphosa against his adversaries – including former president Zuma.
Zuma supported Moyane’s court application and had submitted a supporting affidavit in which he claimed the Sars commission, headed by Judge Robert Nugent, went overboard in recommending Moyane’s dismissal in its interim report.
Zuma said as the person responsible for appointing the Sars commission, he never intended it to issue interim recommendations before gathering all the evidence, and Judge Nugent had no authority to deal with the employment contracts of individuals.
Moyane’s contract was already the focus of a separate presidential initiated process.
Another analyst, Daniel Silke, echoed Kotze.
“The ruling broadly weakened the case for those who support Zuma and strengthened Ramaphosa’s hand within the ANC.
“That Ramaphosa was prepared to take the battle to Moyane gave him ammunition to do a clean-up in the state,” Silke said.
Kotze said the ruling put a stamp on Ramaphosa’s action to fire Moyane and the recommendations of the Sars commission, including that he was not fit to hold office, proving they were not irrational but fair. This also aligned with the public opinion that the official was indeed guilty.
“He can say he has to be heard, but he is finished politically, along with Zuma’s faction. There is no chance of him being reinstated,” Kotze said.
He believed anti-Ramaphosa sentiment was widespread, particularly at SOEs.
Silke warned it will be increasingly difficult for the ANC to use Zuma in KZN, as that would give ANC critics more ammunition.
Eric Naki / The Citizen