The South African Federation of Trade Unions condemns the SA Revenue Service for taking legal action against Jacques Pauw, the author of The President’s Keeper’s, for allegedly contravening the confidentiality clauses in the Tax Administration Act by illegally disclosing information about individual tax-payers.
This action is a clear attempt to punish Pauw for publishing damning evidence, including that President Jacob Zuma was paid a R1-million a month salary for at least four months after he became President in 2009 by one of his cronies.
The 14-page affidavit by SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane, which cites every single “contravention” of the Act that SARS could find in the book‚ confirms all Pauw’s allegations. As his publishers say, “by bringing this application‚ SARS has conceded the truth of the parts in the book it names in the application‚”
“I could only have contravened the act,” says Pauw, “if what I published was true‚ otherwise I have written a fiction which can’t be a contravention of any law. I don’t understand what they are trying to achieve”.
Moyane has conceded that Zuma did indeed break the law, yet has taken no legal action against him, only against the writer who exposed this truth. SAFTU agrees with his publishers the “there is clear and compelling public interest in The President’s Keepers revealing that President Jacob Zuma has perverted the law-enforcement agencies of this country to hide the fact that he is not tax compliant and that he received a salary from Roy Moodley’s company while in office.”
The federation fully agrees with Pauw that legislation should not be used to hide a crime. On the contrary he has performed a valuable public service by exposing serious crimes by the President and his cronies, and we are sure that this legal action is not just an attack on Pauw but an attempt to intimidate all of the media and whistle-blowers and an assault on the constitutional right to freedom of speech.
If he has contravened a clause of the Tax Administration Act, then the act must urgently be amended to bring it in line with Clause 2.8 of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights which reads: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom of the press and other media; freedom to receive or impart information or ideas; freedom of artistic creativity; and academic freedom and freedom of scientific research.”
Exposing crime must over-ride protecting a criminal’s right to confidentiality!
SAFTU urges Pauw to stand firm and continue his work of uncovering the corruption and looting which is crippling our economy and undermining our democratic institutions.
Should the SARS action come to court, the federation urges all its members, media practitioners and civil society to picket the courtroom in their thousands to defend our right to know the truth.