SARS has rejected allegations by ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema that some of its top officials drew up a hit list targeting leading politicians who supported President Jacob Zuma’s rise to power.
Malema made the claim in an interview on e.news last night. He said the document had been drawn up by, among others “very senior people in Sars, very senior management, some of them in cabinet today” – a reference to former Sars commissioner Pravin Gordhan, now the finance minister.
Malema did not name them, but said they had “sat down” and “established a process to try and discredit people” they had “classified” as Zuma supporters. The list named “about 10 people”, but Zuma was not among them, Malema told e.news.
But Sars spokesman Adrian Lackay rubbished the claim. “Sars has a proud record of integrity and applies the law with fairness, with impartiality and equally to the affairs of all taxpayers,” he said.
Earlier yesterday, Malema claimed on SAfm he had been given an “intelligence document” listing his and other names of people who had backed Zuma who were being targeted to be toppled.
Interviewed on SAfm’s After Eight Debate radio programme, Malema further claimed that preliminary investigations by police had determined the document was genuine. A probe was now under way, he said. But on e.news last night he said the document still had to be verified. If genuine it would feed factionalism within the ANC, he said.
Malema said during his SAfm interview that intelligence officers had tipped off the league about the list and had then passed it on to them. He had told Zuma about the existence of the list, he said. Malema said he was the target of a smear campaign for not backing any of the ANC’s leftist allies for leadership positions at the party’s 2012 elective conference. He said he would not mind if Sars did a lifestyle audit on him but would have a problem if one was carried out as a result of political interference – “to further factional interests of certain people in the ANC”, or to suit the agendas of opposition parties like Cope, the DA and ID.
“I am saying so because we’ve got a document of a list of people – and I will make it public, we just took it to the police to verify it – who must be targeted. These people are still called Zuma people,” Malema told SAfm.
He said he had told Zuma that KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize was one of the leaders being targeted. Mkhize on Monday denied any conflict of interest over government contracts worth millions of rands awarded to his wife, Dr May Mashego, and his daughter, Nokulinda Mkhize.
Malema did not identify the intelligence officers who he claimed had handed over the document to him. “They (intelligence officers) found this to be very unacceptable and they thought they needed to alert us. “We had to take it to the police to verify it and so far we are satisfied with the investigation. “The preliminary report shows that this is an authentic document that deserves to be taken seriously. “I told the president (on Monday) ‘I will give you that report before I take it anywhere else’,” Malema said.
The DA is likely to raise questions about Malema’s claims in Parliament. DA national youth spokesman Khume Ramulifho said Malema’s claim was “deeply problematic”. “First, if the National Intelligence Agency is giving its intelligence reports to the head of the ANCYL – a party political position with absolutely no public duties or functions – this constitutes a fundamental conflation of party and state.”
If Malema was referring to “some sort of parallel intelligence structure within the ruling party, this too is deeply problematic”, Ramulifho said. The country’s intelligence structures had been “systematically warped” to serve a number of political agendas in recent years. He would ask his DA MP colleague Theo Coetzee to raise the issue in the joint standing committee on intelligence to establish whether “NIA operatives are handing over secret dossiers to the ANCYL” and if so, whether any action was being taken against them.
“One way or another Julius Malema owes the South African public an explanation,” Ramulifho said. Julius Malema’s “intelligence document” was compiled by a former employee of SA Revenue Service, who is facing criminal charges, but insists that he was part of a sting operation.
In an interview with the media following revelations of his business interests, Malema said he was in possession of a document listing the names of prominent political leaders who backed President Jacob Zuma’s rise to power and were targeted for lifestyle audits.
“I will make (the document) public; we just took it to the police to verify it,” Malema told SAfm. Later he told Metro FM that he would take the document to Zuma. “We received a document delivered in my office by anonymous fellows… which has a long list of our names. There were instructions to people in Sars to investigate (me and)… Deputy Police Minister Fikile Mbalula and (Zuma’s spokesman) Zizi Kodwa,” he said.
Mbalula could not be reached, but Kodwa said even though he has not seen the document, “I am aware of it”. Although a cabinet minister anonymously told Independent Newspapers last night that the document was “handled at the highest level”, State Security spokesman Brian Dube said minister Siyabonga Cwele “does not know what Malema is talking about”.
Malema told e.tv that the document was compiled by “very senior people in Sars, very senior management, some of them in cabinet today” – a tacit reference to former Sars commissioner and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Gordhan also called for lifestyle audits in his Budget speech last week.
Independent Newspapers was approached last year by a former Sars employee, Michael Peega, who claimed that he was part of a secret intelligence unit in the revenue service established by Gordhan.
Peega said Malema was referring to his document. Malema’s spokesman Floyd Shivambu said they were yet to release the document. But he refused to confirm that this was the same Peega report. Peega said part of their brief was to investigate the lifestyles and tax status of senior Zuma supporters. This was during 2007 when the ANC’s succession battle reached its apex.
Others on Peega’s list included National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele. Cele – through spokeswoman Nonkululeko Mbatha – said last year that he was aware of the document but he decided to treat it “as rumour”. However, Peega was fired by Sars for allegedly getting involved in rhino poaching and is currently facing criminal charges. He claimed that he was in a sting operation, a claim denied by Sars. The taxman fired him after he was arrested, and following an internal disciplinary hearing. At that time, Independent Newspapers could not establish the veracity of Peega’s claims or Sars’s denial.
Contacted yesterday, Peega said he stood by the document. “I am not backing off. That’s why I want (Sars) to confront me in public to say this document is not authentic. “I am 200 percent behind it,” Peega said last night. Asked about criminal charges, he said: “The case has not gone to trial, there has been postponements… I maintain what I told you that (I was part of a sting operation)”. Peega said they were given fake IDs to operate and place suspects under surveillance. Peega, who was initially with the military’s special forces, said other recruits in his units included former members of the defunct Scorpion and the police. This was, however, confirmed by SARS.
Sars’s senior managers at the time dismissed Peega as a disgruntled employee and said the so-called intelligence unit was a legitimate department, dealing with organised crime. The taxman showed Independent Newspapers documents to illustrate that the unit was legitimate, audited and accounted for.
Sars said the head of the unit who produced fake “sample IDs” was disciplined and given a warning.
Sars at the time said there was a different unit that conducted routine lifestyle audits, and not Peega’s department. Sars spokesman Adrian Lackay told Independent Newspapers last night: “Sars has a proud record of integrity and applies the law with fairness, with impartiality and equally to the affairs of all taxpayers.”
Source: www.pretorianews.co.za, 20100224
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