The Moyane ultimatum: Cyril gets tough on SARS firing call
Ramaphosa gives suspended SARS boss five days to comment on report suggesting he be fired immediately
President Cyril Ramaphosa has given Tom Moyane until next week Friday to comment on an interim report by Judge Robert Nugent recommending that the president fire the suspended SARS commissioner immediately.
But Moyane is defiant, calling Nugent’s interim report “irrational, illogical and an unlawful attempt to fire the commissioner of SARS unlawfully and through the backdoor”.
Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko confirmed the president sent the report to Moyane to make submissions before October 26.
“It is not a preliminary draft. It is an interim report. It is final about the narrow issues it relates to,” she said.
In the 30-page report, seen by Times Select, Nugent recommended that Moyane be given the chop regardless of the fact that he is facing a disciplinary inquiry.
He also called on the president to appoint a new SARS commissioner in an open and transparent way.
“The day Mr Moyane took office was a calamity for SARS. Almost immediately, and then continuously for the next 18 months, SARS was thrown into turmoil with tragic consequences for the lives of many people, tragic consequences for the reputation of SARS and tragic consequences for the country at large,” Nugent wrote.
Moyane’s lawyer Eric Mabuza said the recommendation by Nugent was illogical and unheard of.
“Judge Nugent has completely missed the script for his commission. He has no right to make recommendations which fall outside of his terms of reference and which should be determined by the disciplinary process,” he said.
Mabuza accused Nugent of wanting to force Moyane’s axing even though an application to the Constitutional Court to rule the commission as unconstitutional was still pending.
“It is our educated prediction that the continuation of the biased and tainted Nugent Commission will turn out to have been a complete waste of taxpayers’ money,” he said.
In the report sent to Ramaphosa the retired judge said he gave Moyane and his lawyer an opportunity to respond, but “it appears … that Mr Moyane has no intention of making submissions, but is intent instead of derailing the commission”.
Nugent further noted that SARS would not recover if Moyane was still at the helm.
“The replacement of Mr Moyane will by no means by itself restore SARS but is a non-negotiable prerequisite for the process of recovery to begin, which is why we have recommended it at this early time,” he said.
Nugent described Moyane’s leadership of SARS as disturbing and to the detriment of revenue collections.
“Today the air at SARS reeks of intrigue, fear, distrust and suspicion. We have heard of it in evidence and we have encountered it ourselves,” the judge wrote.
While public hearings at the Nugent inquiry into SARS is still ongoing, the retired judge noted that the president must act on his recommendation to fire Moyane and replace him in the interim in an effort to restore the credibility of the institution.
He further added: “What has occurred at SARS during the tenure of Mr Moyane demonstrates that material legislative changes need to be made to enhance the formal governance of SARS so as to avoid it recurring.”