JOHANNESBURG – The DA is calling for a commission of inquiry into the South African Revenue Service’s rogue unit.
This call comes as the Hawks investigates claims of corruption within the unit.
The unit was established in 2007 during Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s tenure as Sars boss, to investigate organised crime and illicit trading.
It was disbanded last year, by Sars commissioner Tom Moyane.
It emerged that several people have left or face suspension, among them Gordhan allies.
Earlier on Monday, the Hawks said they had merely asked Gordhan questions to help them in their probe and denied that the minister was a suspect.
Sars tax chief Tom Moyane is said to be the one behind the charges that have sucked in Gordhan.
The rift between Moyane and his boss Gordhan has become a public spectacle, heightened by reports that the finance minister asked Zuma to decide who must remain between the two.
On Monday, President Jacob Zuma called for restraint while these problems are being sorted. He said Gordhan’s job as finance minister was not under threat.
The DA said Zuma was in “full damage control mode desperately trying to keep the political lid on the internal civil war, which has broken out over the so-called ‘rogue unit’ within Sars”.
In addition, the DA said: “The fact that the public had to be reassured that the Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan has nothing to worry about and that his job is not in jeopardy, is likely to have the reverse effect and undermine, rather than boost, investor confidence in South Africa”.
The DA said there was no dispute that the Hawks had launched an investigation into the Sars “rogue unit”, which Gordhan believes is politically motivated and aimed at trying to intimidate and distract him, as well as destabilise the economic stability of South Africa.
“What this suggests is that the President is in denial: there is an all-out civil war being fought within the state, and within the ruling party, over the Sars ‘rogue unit’,” said the DA.
On Friday, Gwede Mantashe, the secretary-general of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), issued a statement in which he said that his party reiterated its full confidence in Gordhan and his team at the National Treasury.
He, however, said the ANC was extremely concerned that four days before Gordhan delivered the Budget speech, questions from the Hawks were sent to him.
Mantashe said it was unfortunate that there were initiatives to undermine Gordhan’s work, reverse the gains the economy had made and have a destabilising effect in the long term.
Zuma, who is also the leader of the ANC, denied there was any plot to dislodge Gordhan.