'I won't be abused by schoolyard bullies,' says Manuel over EFF's Sars comments

Former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel has demanded a retraction from the EFF for what he has called a false, racist, and libelous statements about himself and new Sars boss Edward Kieswetter.

FILE: Former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

PRETORIA - Former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel has demanded a retraction from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) for what he has called a false, racist, and libelous statements about himself and new South African Revenue Service (Sars) boss Edward Kieswetter.

Manuel was the chair of the panel appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to interview and shortlist candidates for the position of Sars commissioner.

The Presidency announced on Wednesday that it had accepted the panel’s recommendation to appoint Kieswetter.

The EFF claims, without any supporting evidence, that Manuel and Kieswetter are friends and business partners.

Manuel said he would not allow himself to be “abused by schoolyard bullies” such as the EFF national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.

“Whilst they are free to hold their warped political views about a Sars commissioner for whatever reason, they have no right to libelous or racist views. I am sure that other individuals named in the EFF statement are quite capable of speaking for themselves, I am not intimidated by these bullies to speak on my own behalf,” Manuel said in an open letter.

Ndlozi issued a statement on Wednesday, claiming that the new Sars boss and Manuel were friends, were in business together and that Manuel unlawfully appointed Kieswetter as deputy commissioner back in 2004.

Manuel has warned Ndlozi to withdraw his unsubstantiated claims or face legal action.

“Only a mind warped into destruction by apartheid can ever suggest blood-ties between two individuals classified coloured by the apartheid regime when the only connective tissue is racial classification. The onus now rests on Mr Ndlozi to prove the ties exist.

“Secondly, [Ndlozi] claims that I have business relations with Mr Kieswetter. He now has to explain how, through which agency and when these ties were established. I can direct him to the CIPC [Companies and Intellectual Property Commission] database, where I am sure he will find nothing. The truth of the matter is that Edward and I have not even served on the same non-profit organisation. He has made the claim and the obligation to explain is now in his court.

“Thirdly, [Ndlozi] has claimed that I, as Minister of Finance at the time, appointed Mr Kieswetter as the Sars deputy commissioner. If he had read the Sars Act or the Nugent Commission Report, he might know that the minister of finance possesses no such powers. He has to retract this forthwith.”

The EFF has shown significant interest in Sars by being staunch supporters of former commissioner Tom Moyane who was legally represented by the party’s national chairperson, Advocate Dali Mpofu.

Party leader Julius Malema’s wife and children live in a house owned by cigarette manufacturer Adriano Mazzotti whose assets were recently attached by Sars to settle a tax debt.


Meanwhile, on Thursday Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said that all processes were followed in appointing Kieswetter as the new Sars commissioner.

Mboweni introduced Kieswetter formally during a media briefing.

At the briefing, Mboweni responded to the questions of a lack of transparency in the appointment.

"There is a document, which is a report from the panel about the process that they went through, it will show you how transparent the process was and who participated, and how they came to the conclusion," Mboweni said.

Additional reporting by Robinson Nqola.

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)