Trevor Manuel didn't really recuse himself, says EFF as it appeals defamation ruling

04 June 2019 - 06:38
By Nico Gous
EFF leader Julius Malema.
Image: MultimediaLIVE EFF leader Julius Malema.

The EFF believes Trevor Manuel recusing himself from the job interview with newly-appointed SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Edward Kieswetter was not a true recusal.

“A recusal is an irrevocable withdrawal from proceedings terminating the person’s continued participation therein. This is to avoid the perception of bias.”

This is what the EFF, its leader Julius Malema and spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi contended in court documents filed at the Johannesburg high court on Friday.

“Manuel himself recognises that there was a personal relationship existing between himself and the new Sars commissioner which, had he not disclosed nor ‘recused’ himself in respect of [it], the process of appointing the new Sars commissioner would have been brought into doubt.”

They argued that if other candidates knew about Manuel’s recusal, they may have “wished to seek Manuel’s recusal in order to protect their rights” in their own job interviews.

They are appealing judge Elias Matojane’s ruling handed down on Thursday that the party has to pay the former finance minister R500,000 for defamatory and false statements the party made.

Matojane also ordered the EFF to remove a statement about Manuel from all of its media platforms about the interview process for Kieswetter.

Manuel went to court after the EFF in a statement on March 27 accused him of nepotism and corruption in influencing the appointment of Kieswetter. Manuel chaired the selection panel which interviewed shortlisted candidates for the job.

But Manuel recused himself when Kieswetter was interviewed because the candidate was Sars deputy commissioner at the time Manuel was finance minister.

Manuel said earlier the statement was defamatory as it implied he were corrupt, nepotistic and conducted an unlawful appointment process.

The EFF also defended their remarks as “political speech” and argued the “reasonable reader” would “be used to the kind of language used as being consistent with their colourful rhetorical style”.

“The position of the [EFF] was that the statement itself did not need to be supported by facts or explained away, as such, on account of its political nature.”