Business Day reported on Monday morning that the SA Revenue Service (Sars) launched an urgent court bid to prevent public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane from getting former president Jacob Zuma's tax information.
In October, Mkhwebane was issued a subpoena to obtain Zuma's taxpayer information, the publication reported.
She is investigating a 2017 complaint from the DA that Zuma allegedly received undeclared money from a security company in during (at least) the first four months of his presidency.
The claim was first made in Jacques Pauw's book The President’s Keepers, which alleged that Zuma received R1m a month from Royal Security, a company owned by Roy Moodley. Pauw wrote that neither Zuma, nor Moodley, declared these payments to SARS.
SARS officials then picked up on these payments, which caused ructions within the agency at the time. SARS threatened legal action against Pauw for publishing "confidential taxpayer information".
Business Day reported on Monday that SARS now wants an urgent stay against the implementation of the subpoena granted to Mkhwebane in October.
SARS reportedly wants the high court to rule that it can withhold taxpayer information from the public protector, and that the protector's subpoena powers do not extend to taxpayer information. It also wants Mkhwebane to pay 15% of the legal costs in the case.
Business Day says that the application could have "far-reaching implications" for the protector’s ability to access taxpayer details.
SARS spokesperson Sandile Memela insists its case against PP should not be perceived as an attempt to protect Zuma.“We are aware of how this may be misconstrued. But it is simply about the Tax Administration Act that binds us to confidentiality on any taxpayers affairs,” he said— Karyn Maughan (@karynmaughan) November 11, 2019