The South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan gave an ultimatum to President Zuma prior to the budget speech, threatening to resign from the cabinet. The resignation if tendered would have weakened the rand and caused a brand new chaos in SA’s markets.
The reason behind the ultimatum was due to a serious deterioration in Gordhan’s relationship with South African Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Tom Moyane.
The hostility increased with a letter from the Hawks to Mr Gordhan, questioning his knowledge of an alleged rogue unit at the tax agency, asking questions about the employment of former SARS deputy commissioner Ivan Pilla, demanding answers on Project Sunday Evening during which the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was reportedly spied on and also wanted answers on the involvement of Andries Van Rensburg, or “Skollie”, who left SARS in a disgraceful manner.
Reports gathered that during last weekend’s meeting, Gordhan had told President Zuma that he could no longer work in alliance with Mr Moyane.
“Moyane must go or I must go,” was the ultimatum coming from Mr Gordhan to the president.
The controversy led to the removal of everyone with ties to Gordhan from SARS by Moyen and he also used a contentious report on the unit.
Senior SARS officials like Mr Pillay, head of investigations Johann Van Loggerenberg, and head of risk and strategy Peter Richer received sack letters or had to leave due to one or two lengthy suspensions.
Gordhan would have gotten the same treatment following a leaked copy of a KPMG document reportedly recommending that he be questioned about the unit.
Following Gordhan’s reappointed to the post of Finance Minister in December, he issued an order for Moyane to put a stop to a huge restructuring project saying that SARS should not issue media statements except on routine matters; and most importantly asked that there be no leaks of information.
In their discussion, President Zuma told Gordhan that he does not object to the work Moyane was doing and that he believed he should continue in the post. The president was reported to have discussed the issue with the top six leaders of the African National Congress (ANC) on Monday.
But ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa said it was not true that the matter had been discussed and declined to comment on it, dismissing the issue as an issue of governance.
Treasury spokeswoman Phumza Macanda said the Treasury was not commenting.
SARS spokesman Sandile Memela would not respond to questions, saying the agency’s turnaround time was 24 hours.