03/07/2018 03:22 BST | Updated 03/07/2018 03:22 BST

The Forces Of Capture Are Mustering

... even as suspended Sars boss Tom Moyane gets dealt a body blow.

Esa Alexander/ The Times/ Getty Images
Tom Moyane appeared before a parliamentary committee to present the revenue service's annual report and to field questions about the suspension, investigation and reinstatement of Jonas Makwakwa.

Suspended Sars commissioner Tom Moyane's fight back against the probe into how he ran the institution, as well as against his upcoming disciplinary inquiry, is a symbol of a much bigger fight back by alleged instruments of state capture against President Cyril Ramaphosa.

He is also facing:

  • A mustering of a coalition of the wounded led by former president Jacob Zuma, largely focused on KwaZulu-Natal.
  • A well-funded legal battle by the Gupta family forces and their lieutenants, who have won successive rounds against specialist police unit the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority.

Moyane was dealt a body blow by retired judge Robert Nugent, who is heading the Commission of Inquiry into Tax Administration and Governance at Sars, when he countered an effort to torpedo his probe with a firm "No!"

The Times via Getty Images
South African Revenue Services (SARS) commissioner Tom Moyane appeared before a parlamentary committee to present the revenue service's annual report and to field questions about the suspension, investigation and reinstatement of Jonas Makwakwa.

Moyane's advocate, Dali Mpofu, on Friday attempted to get the commission stopped pending the finalisation of the disciplinary inquiry; he sought to get Nugent's assistant, Professor Michael Katz, fired (later he amended this to get Katz to recuse himself); he wanted the commission record of evidence from its first week expunged; and he sought a costs order against the commission.

Mpofu's application was refused on all counts and the advocate told HuffPost that he would consult Moyane to determine whether or not they will go ahead with a threat made on Friday to interdict the commission.

Advocate Dali Mpofu.

Evidence before the commission and in the public domain suggests Moyane and his former chief operating officer, Jonas Makwakwa, can be classified as agents of state capture at Sars.

Moyane and Makwakwa had started to make private deals with large corporate clients at Sars (a red flag for tax corruption); had commandeered control of Sars' big IT procurement budget; and Makwakwa was fingered by the Financial Intelligence Centre after he was found stuffing huge amounts of cash into various ATMs with his then girlfriend, now wife, Kelly-Ann Elskie, who also works at Sars.

Cash transactions are generally regarded as suspicious, especially by executives of an institution such as Sars.

Both Moyane and Makwakwa have hired the best lawyers to stage their fight back, a trend that mirrors what the Gupta family are doing.

While the Hawks have repeatedly raided the family's now deserted compound at Saxonwold in Johannesburg, the new head of the elite crime-fighting unit, General Godfrey Lebeya, told eNCA that the family's patriarch, Ajay Gupta, should no longer be regarded as a fugitive from justice.

The Guptas have won several applications against the state's attempt to freeze their assets and to keep the family's nephew, Varun, in South Africa — as he is one of few witnesses left to explain how more than R200-million was lost by the state in the Estina dairy farm scandal.

In KwaZulu-Natal, Jacob Zuma, who is closely associated with the Gupta family and who facilitated their empire of capture during his presidency, is staging a resistance against the new power in the ANC. Zuma is reported to be contemplating starting a new party while maintaining a constant presence at ANC national executive committee meetings.