Max du Preez on SARS and tapes
31 March 2016
One of the keys, perhaps the main key, to the SARS hostility towards finance minister Pravin Gordhan is a dossier in the safe at SARS headquarters containing dynamite allegations of corruption, fraud, front companies and foreign bank accounts against prominent benefactors of President Jacob Zuma.
Several billions of Rands are at stake and Zuma would be extremely embarrassed if the alleged dossier were to be acted upon. It could well open him up to prosecution himself and/or to a massive income tax bill – at least for evading donations tax.
The investigations were conducted by the crack SARS investigative unit established during Gordhan’s reign at SARS. SARS actually sent a letter to Zuma’s lawyer asking the president’s response to the allegations. The dossiers were eventually handed to the new SARS commissioner now in a public spat with Gordhan, Tom Moyane.
The SARS investigators, I’m told, came across several foreign bank accounts that raised serious questions.
I was told that the minister of State Security and Zuma loyalist, David Mahlobo, had personally involved himself with the safeguarding of the dossier.
I was also told that at least one member of the ANC Top Six was briefed on the contents of the dossier.
Among the Zuma friends investigated by the SARS controversial investigations unit were super-wealthy businessmen Thoshan Panday of KwaZulu-Natal and Jen Chih “Robert” Huang, a Taiwanese citizen operating in South Africa.
Huang is a close business associate of Khulubuse Zuma, the president’s nephew, and is a key middleman between South African and Chinese business interests. His company, Mpisi Trading, also stands accused of paying Swaziland politicians many millions. Netwerk24.com reported on 19 February last year that president Zuma involved himself personally in the settling of a R540m SARS claim against Huang. Huang has apparently on occasion flown from Durban to Nkandla with Zuma in an Air Force helicopter.
Huang supplied the ANC with R118m worth of T-shirts before the 2014 election, but the delivery was stopped by SARS because duties and taxes were not paid. The Mail & Guardian reported in December 2014 that this move “was one of the factors that fed into the leadership purge of SARS”.
A PriceWaterhouseCoopers forensics investigation alleged that Panday had paid vast amounts of money to senior police officers and manipulated tenders the police then awarded to his companies. Charges of corruption and bribery against him and Colonel Navin Madhoe were controversially dropped in 2013.
It is widely accepted as uncontested fact that Zuma had ordered the clearing out of the SARS top structure and appointed Moyane, an old friend and MK comrade and former head of prisons, to take over the leadership.
It is virtually a carbon copy of what he had done at the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority. In both cases he wielded his machete after these two bodies started investigations against him or his close friends.
Gordhan, the one man who could prevent a downgrade of the South African economy to junk status, is now demanding that Zuma fire Moyane – it is a presidential appointment – or he would resign.
There can be little doubt that the economy would verge on total collapse if Gordhan were to resign or was fired.
Zuma was yesterday still playing his games. He said Gordhan’s job is not on the line, but had earlier asked that Gordhan cooperate with the Hawks’ investigation into the SARS investigation unit. The Hawks sent Gordhan a list of 27 questions and wanted a response by tomorrow. There is no sign so far that Gordhan plans to meet that deadline. He said the letter was “an attempt by some individuals who have no interest in South Africa, its future, its economic prospects and the welfare of its people”.
He has, though, issued a statement saying that the investigative unit was legally constituted and approved on ministerial level; that its finances were approved according to the normal SARS practices and was audited by the Auditor General; and that SARS ensured at all times that it functioned within legal and policy frameworks and the laws of the country.
But if Zuma were forced to fire Moyane, it could mean the unravelling of the Zuma power group’s hold on critical state institutions that it had worked so hard at establishing. Who would be next? The SAA’s Dudu Myeni? National Prosecuting Authority head Shaun Abrahams and his side-kick and Zuma favourite Nomcqobo Jiba? SABC head honcho Hlaudi Motsoeneng? Hawks chief Berning Ntlemeza?
When all his pawns had fallen, Zuma will face his worst nightmare: prosecution on corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering charges relating to his relationship with Schabir Shaik, but also relating to the dossier still in Tom Moyane’s safe. (And the DA’s six-year legal battles to get the old corruption charges reinstated resumes in court today…)
The explicit public support Gordhan has received from ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe and from the SA Communist Party is very significant. Several senior cabinet ministers are members of the SACP and will probably follow the party leadership. It goes without saying that deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa is on the Gordhan side. The role that treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize had played in getting the appointment of Des van Rooyen overturned suggests that may no longer be in the Zuma camp. Deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte appeared to show her colours when she daringly invited as her personal guests to the state of the nation address three old Zuma victims/foes, former Hawks head Anwa Dramat, former SARS Deputy Commissioner Ivan Pillay and former Independent Police Investigative Directorate head Robert McBride.
But Zuma’s tentacles of patronage reach very wide. Many in leadership positions in the provinces, the civil service and especially the ANC’s highest organ, the 90-odd member National Executive Committee, benefit. Will they protect their privileges at all costs, or will they realise that the ship is sinking and jump?
And for how long will the state security services protect Zuma instead of sticking to their mandate “to provide the government with intelligence on domestic and foreign threats or potential threats to national stability, the constitutional order, and the safety and wellbeing of our people”?
Zuma is weaker than he’s ever been, but he’s not yet a spent force. He has the potential to pulldown the pillars of our economy like Samson of old.
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Comments by Johan Lucas:
Currently in our country’s short democratic history we are surely confused with the interpretation of Integrity. It seems that depending on one’s position, whether political, unionist, ethnic group or others, the definition of Integrity apparently seems to differ. The question is should it?
INTEGRITY (noun) | in teg ri ty:
- total honesty and sincerity <a person of integrity>.
- the condition of being free from damage or defect <The building has structural integrity>.
Synonym discussion of INTEGRITY:
HONESTY, HONOUR, INTEGRITY, PROBITY mean uprightness of character or action.
HONESTY implies a refusal to lie, steal, or deceive in any way. HONOUR suggests an active or anxious regard for the standards of one’s profession, calling, or position.
INTEGRITY implies trustworthiness and incorruptibility to a degree that one is incapable of being false to a trust, responsibility, or pledge.
PROBITY implies tried and proven honesty or integrity. 
The definition was taken from the section “INTEGRITY Defined for Kids” – it seemed clearer.”
I am reminded of the story or poem I once read: “It’s OK son, Everybody does it!”
IT’S OK, SON, EVERYBODY DOES IT – JACK GRIFFIN
When Johnny was 6 years old, he was with his father when they were caught speeding. His father handed the officer a twenty dollar bill with his driver’s license. “It’s OK, son,” his father said as they drove off. “Everybody does it.”
When he was 8, he was present at a family council presided over by Uncle George, on the surest means to shave points off the income tax return. “It’s OK, kid,” his Uncle said. “Everybody does it.”
When he was 9, his mother took him to his first theatre production. The box office man couldn’t find any seats until his mother discovered an extra $5 in her purse. “It’s OK, son,” his mother. “Everybody does it.”
When he was 12, he broke his glasses on the way to school. His Aunt Francine persuaded the insurance company that they had been stolen and they collected $75. “It’s OK, kid,” his Aunt said. “Everybody does it.”
When he was 15, he made right guard on the high school football team. His coach showed him how to block and at the same time grab the opposing end by the shirt so the official couldn’t see it. “It’s OK, kid,” his coach said. “Everybody does it.”
When he was 16, he took his first summer job at the supermarket. His assignment was to put the overripe strawberries in the bottom of the boxes and the good ones on top where they would show. “It’s OK, kid,” his manager said. “Everybody does it.”
When he was 18, Johnny and a neighbour applied for a college scholarship. Johnny was a marginal student. His neighbour was in the upper 3 percent of his class, but he could not play right guard. Johnny got the scholarship. “It’s OK, son,” his parents said. “Everybody does it.”
When he was 19, he was approached by an upperclassman who offered the test answers for $50. “It’s OK, kid,” he said. “Everybody does it.”
Johnny was caught and sent home in disgrace. “How could you do this to your mother and me?” his father said. “You never learned anything like this at home.” His aunt and uncle were also shocked.
If there’s one thing that adult world can’t stand, it’s a kid who cheats….
Updated from the Chicago Sun Times (1988)”
Is it OK? Is it OK what is happening in our beloved South Africa? I guess we all have to decide for ourselves.