Trevor Manuel is suing the EFF, its leader Julius Malema and its spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi after they alleged that he oversaw a ‘nepotistic’ and ‘corrupt’ process to appoint new SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter, reports Business Day.

In a ‘semi urgent’ application to the Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) dated 10 April, Manuel asked the court to declare the EFF’s comments about him defamatory and false. He also wanted the party to be compelled to remove the offending statement from its online platforms. Manuel also wanted the EFF to be interdicted from repeating similar allegations.

The former Finance Minister also claimed damages for injury to his reputation, saying the court should determine the quantum of the damages which, if awarded, he will donate to charity. Manuel said in court papers that the comments made by the party had injured his name, reputation and standing in society.

‘I would like to make myself available to serve my country in some or other capacity in future. But the statement makes it less likely that I could ever do so, for it says that I acted in a corrupt and nepotistic manner,’ Manuel said in his founding affidavit.

Manuel chaired the selection panel which conducted the interviews for the post and had recused himself from asking questions during Kieswetter’s interview. Kieswetter is a former Deputy Commissioner at SARS who held the position while Manuel was Finance Minister.

Manuel said he recused himself from asking questions because they were still on friendly terms by the time of the interview.

Full Business Day report

Ahead of the announcement of Kieswetter's appointment, the EFF made various allegations against both Kieswetter and Manuel – among them that the two were related and had a ‘close business relationship’, notes a Fin24 report. At the time, the EFF said it sent a letter and parliamentary questions to President Cyril Ramaphosa and Mboweni in February, specifically asking why they were conducting the SARS Commissioner selection process ‘in secret’.

When Kieswetter was subsequently officially announced as the new SARS Commissioner, Manuel said in a short statement that he would not be abused by ‘schoolyard bullies’ and that statements by EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi were ‘false’, ‘racist’ and ‘libellous’.

Manuel claims the EFF not only cast aspersion on his integrity, but also that of Kieswetter, says a report on the IoL site. In his affidavit, he said: ‘Yet the allegations are without any basis in fact. They are integrity false. I am not related to Mr Kieswetter, nor is he my business associate. I acted lawfully, impartially and in the best interest of SARS while discharging my duties as chair of the panel.’

He added he had not displayed corruption or nepotism and that his sole purpose of bringing forth the court application is to protect his reputation and the integrity of the panel and the National Treasury. He also said Malema and Ndlozi had not provided any evidence to their allegations.

Full Fin24 report

Full report on the IoL site