Manuel vs EFF: 'Defamation' case over Kieswetter appointment postponed

The High Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday postponed an urgent application by former finance minister Trevor Manuel against the EFF.

Manuel had approached the court after the the party refused to apologise for accusing him of nepotism in the process that led to the appointment of Edward Kieswetter as the new commissioner of the SA Revenue Service. 

The case was postponed until Tuesday to allow the judge time to read the EFF's responding affidavit, which was only filed shortly before proceedings were supposed to start. 

The former minister of finance was the head of a selection panel, appointed by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, tasked with interviewing potential candidates for the top job in the revenue service. The panel made recommendations but did not make the final decision. 

The EFF in March had claimed that Kieswetter was a relative of Manuel's and the two had a close business relationship. The EFF did not provide evidence to support its claim. Manuel denied the allegations at the time, calling them "racist" and "libellous".

"I am not related to Mr Kieswetter. Nor is he my business associate. I acted lawfully, impartially and in the best of interests of SARS while discharging my duties as chair of the panel," he later said in court papers.  

As Fin24 previously reported, Manuel wants the court to declare that the EFF's allegation that he acted unlawfully and with nepotism in the appointment of Kieswetter is "defamatory and false".  In addition to the party retracting its statement and apologising, he is seeking that the EFF pay damages, including his legal fees, for the reputational harm he endured.

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