Court hears EFF accusation 'damaged reputation' of Trevor Manuel
The defamation case brought by former finance minister Trevor Manuel against the EFF, its leader Julius Malema and spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi got under way in the South Gauteng High Court on Tuesday.
The EFF had on March 27, in a statement, accused Manuel of nepotism and corruption in influencing the appointment of new SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Edward Kieswetter. Manuel chaired the selection panel which interviewed the shortlisted candidates for the job.
Manuel had, however, recused himself when Kieswetter was interviewed because Kieswetter was Sars deputy commissioner at the time that Manuel was the country's finance minister.
Counsel for Manuel, Carol Steinberg, told the court that if the statement by the EFF remained unchallenged, Manuel would suffer continued damage to his reputation.
She was explaining why Manuel's application should be heard on an urgent basis.
Steinberg said the statement against Manuel was prejudicial to the many organisations with which he was associated.
"He is the longest-serving finance minister in the world. He now represents SA unofficially. He has various roles in international multilateral structures and in the private sector, where he is chairman of Old Mutual," said Steinberg.
She said while the statement by the EFF remained in the public domain, the public was being told that the new Sars commissioner was appointed not because he was the best candidate, but because he was a relative of Manuel, a close companion whose appointment was made in secret.
"The case has everything to do with the fact that Mr Kieswetter started his duties on May 2. The reason that Mr Manuel brought this application was to ensure that Sars's reputation was cleared as soon as possible."
The EFF is opposing Manuel's application and is asking the court to strike the matter off the roll as it was not urgent.
The case continues.