Kieswetter accused of bullying, 'jobs for pals' - report

SA Revenue Service Commissioner Edward Kieswetter – whose appointment formed part of President Cyril Ramaphosa's clean-up of government agencies – has been accused of corruption in the Technology Innovation Agency, whose board he chairs.

TIA ex-CEO Barlow Manilal, whose contract was terminated a year early by the board last month, has issued a 22-page complaint about the tax agency boss to the minister of higher education, science and technology, Blade Nzimande, according to a report in the latest Sunday Times.

According to the Sunday paper, Manilal says Kieswetter "bullied and hounded" him during his tenure as chair.

Manilal also claims Kieswetter tried to set up a profitable coaching contract for a friend of his, and that he insisted on flying business class, although this was against the TIA's policy – claiming it was for an unspecified medical condition.

The TIA falls under Nzimande's department. It is a national public entity with a focus on technology development. Its website states that its strategic goals include helping to commercialise tech solutions and increasing infrastructure access for technology.

Manilal's dismissal is set to be taken up by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), after which it will be escalated to the Labour Court if it is not resolved. The challenge to Manilal's axing is based on the complaint, the Sunday Times added.

According to the paper, Manilal claims Kieswetter arranged a meeting between the two of them and one Cilette Harris, whom he introduced as a long-standing friend.

Harris' LinkedIn profile describes her as a partner at Shine Relationship Consulting, specialising in "Personal, Team, Leadership and Organisation Development and Transformation".

"I am an experienced process facilitator, accredited in the Lewis Method," the profile adds.

Other past experience listed includes being former head of Human Resources at FNB Wealth and partner at Schuitema Human Excellence.

'Chastised'

Manilal claims Kieswetter "chastised" him when Harris was not hired and asked to "interrogate" the files for that supply chain process, which he labelled "highly inappropriate".

Kieswetter, for his part, has dismissed the claims, saying he introduced Manilal to Harris as a potential candidate but that he encouraged Manilal to explore other options.

Kieswetter also denied a further claim by Manilal that he attempted to increase, backdate and influence board fees, the paper said.

Manilal was released from his position as CEO in June 2019 after serving for four years, the TIA said in a statement. The termination of his contract was not widely reported at the time.  

At the time of hiring him as CEO, the TIA spoke of his 30-page CV including "the kinds of achievements and awards that society could only be inspired and motivated by". He formerly worked at Toyota SA and Mercedes Benz SA. He also spent 14 years at the Automotive Industry Development Centre, with 14 years as CEO.

Fin24 reached out to both SARS and Nzimande's spokesperson for additional comment. By Sunday evening, none had been received.

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