Trevor Manuel

PRETORIA – Former finance minister Trevor Manuel has spoken out against the Economic Freedom Fighers (EFF), for statements they made about him and South African Revenue Service (SARS) boss Edward Kieswetter.

Manuel has termed the statements false, racists and libelous, and demanded a retraction.

The former minister was chair of a panel appointed by President Ramaphosa to interview and shortlist candidates for the position of SARS commissioner. The president went ahead and accepted the recommendation of the panel to appoint Kieswetter.

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The EFF then made claims that Manuel and Kieswetter were friends and business partners, which could have influenced the decision.

“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 a press statement.

EFF national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi had on Wednesday issued a statement making the claims, also adding that Manuel had unlawfully appointed Kieswetter as deputy commissioner back in 2004.

Edward Kieswetter
Edward Kieswetter

The former minister has demanded a withdrawal of the claims, failure to which he will take legal action.

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Part of his statement reads:

“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.”

Finance minister Tito Mboweni meanwhile says that all processes were followed in making the appointment. He was responding to questions during the unveiling of Kieswetter to the press.

“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,” he said said.