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Accusations against Manuel a matter of principle - EFF

Former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel took legal action against EFF, accusing them of defamation for suggesting Sars commissioner Edward Kieswetter’s appointment was based on nepotism.

FILE: Former finance minister Trevor Manuel. Picture: Cindy Archillies/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) argued in court on Tuesday that its MPs took an oath in Parliamentary to raise issues on the appointment of officials at state entities.

Former finance minister Trevor Manuel took legal action against the red berets, accusing them of defamation for suggesting South African Revenue Service commissioner Edward Kieswetter’s appointment was based on nepotism.

The EFF argued the case was not urgent and said Manuel’s reputation had not suffered as a result of its claims.

The EFF argued that before it released a statement detailing how Manuel favoured Kieswetter, its leadership had written to Finance Minister Tito Mboweni asking why the appointment interviews were conducted in secret.

The party said it also wrote to Parliament asking about a possible conflict of interest with Manuel’s involvement in the interviews.

The EFF’s lawyer said after receiving no responses, the party’s leaders decided to release details they had obtained from a reliable source.

The party said at the time that airing the allegations was in the public interest as they emerged just before the elections and South Africans deserved the opportunity to make informed choices.

In court, the party argued that the only reason Manuel wanted this matter to be heard urgently was because Kieswetter started work on 1 May and Manuel didn’t want a cloud hanging over the new taxman’s head.

Earlier on Tuesday, Manuel's lawyers said the EFF could have challenged Kieswetter's appointment without defaming their client.

The High Court reserved judgment on the matter.

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