Former president Jacob Zuma was hellbent on appointing Tom Moyane as commissioner of revenue service Sars despite being advised that there were more credible candidates suitable for the job.
This is according to public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan, who was giving evidence before deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo at the commission of inquiry into state capture on Monday.
“One could sense there was a bit of hesitation about allowing that process to continue… Mr Moyane’s name might have appeared in a conversation, but I said to the president, ‘Test your candidate against the others and allow a dual process to go through as it normally would’,” said Gordhan.
He said Zuma was keen on replacing former Sars commissioner Oupa Magashula who had resigned in July 2013 following the outcome of a fact-finding inquiry into allegations that he had offered a chartered accountant a job at Sars.
Gordhan said Zuma had set his sights on Moyane and was not willing to hear of any other candidates.
“I became aware that former president Jacob Zuma wished to exercise his powers to appoint a new commissioner. I advised him that he may want to place his own preferred candidate through the usual process. In the event, it became clear that he ignored this suggestion,” said Gordhan.
In 2016, Gordhan asked Zuma to fire Moyane due to a breakdown in their work relationship, but the former president refused. Zuma reportedly cited a “fake intelligence” report as the basis for accusing Gordhan of involvement in alleged financial treason.
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In March 2017, a report titled “Operation Checkmate” was presented to the top six officials of the ANC as “proof” of why Gordhan and former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas had to be axed. Although the officials and alliance partners dismissed the document, Zuma nonetheless fired Gordhan and Jonas.
Gordhan said when it came to filling the post of Sars commissioner, Moyane’s name was “floating around”, but there were 120 other candidates who were either at his level or more experienced.
President Cyril Ramaphosa fired Moyane on November 1 after accepting a recommendation by the chairperson of the Sars commission of inquiry, retired judge Robert Nugent.
Nugent recommended Moyane’s dismissal in an interim report prepared last month. He also recommended that a permanent commissioner be appointed for the revenue service.
Moyane is taking Rampahosa to court to challenge his dismissal.