A paper trail has revealed how Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Sars comissioner Tom Moyane are involved in a battle that has now gotten the attention of President Jacob Zuma.
According to the Mail and Guardian, 16 letters between Gordhan and Moyane have shown how their working relationship has broken down, with Moyane going as far as to blame Gordhan for his ill health, and he refuses to directly account to the minister. Gordhan is the head of the National Treasury, and Sars falls under his jurisdiction.
The weekly reports that Moyane was taken to task by Gordhan for approving his own salary increase, performance bonus and dishing out bonuses to Sars staff amounting to R500 million without following basic performance assessment procedures.
Their tense relationship has disintegrated to such an extent that they have fought about Moyane ‘informing’ Gordhan he was taking leave instead of applying for it like any regular employee, meeting arrangements and Gordhan’s refusal to shake Moyane’s hand on two occasions.
“I ask myself everyday what I have I ever done to you that has made you mistreat and besiege me as if I am a little boy,” Moyane stated in one letter. He added his superior had subjected him to “alien, unflattering behaviour, wholesome extremism, deplorable conduct and interfering in the operations of Sars and systematically orchestrating a vigorous campaign to usurp him”.
Though Gordhan did not reply to many of the letters, one his responses was reportedly met with an objection from Moyane, who then turned to Zuma for protection and declared an intergovernmental dispute.
Further evidence of the breakdown of the relationship shows how Moyane only attended two meetings held by Gordhan. In one of these meetings, the finance minister was upset and scolded Moyane for preparing poorly for the meeting.
“It was Gordhan’s sense that the Sars management team don’t know the business of Sars, couldn’t answer questions and fumbled their presentation, that made him explode,” a source told the Mail and Guardian.
Tension between the two reached a head when Moyane approved salary increases and bonuses despite Gordhan indicating he needed approval to do so.
“Your unauthorised, unlawful and irregular interference in the administrative and operational matters of Sars is unlawful and contrary to the Sars act. The decision to approve salary increment and payment of bonuses was made by my office as part of performing an office function after diligent consideration,” Moyane reportedly.
Moyane has also sought an urgent meeting with Zuma and Gordhan.
Gordhan has not commented, while spokesperson for Sars Sandile Memela said the letters were confidential and he could not discuss their contents with the media.