Johannesburg - The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) say they have accepted a proposal from “independent and concerned” South Africans to set up an independent trust to raise funds to bail out their party leader Julius Malema who owes Sars R16 million.
The party said on Thursday morning that this was in the event that its legal battle to fight Malema’s sequestration did not succeed.
“An independent trust, with an independent board of trustees and operational autonomy, will therefore be set up and announced to deal with issues relating to fundraising that will prevent the sequestration in case the legal process does not succeed,” said Mpho Ramakatsa, EFF national organiser, addressing journalists in Centurion on Thursday morning.
He said the party believed the trust would be “extremely successful” as thousands of people had already offered to contribute.
Ramakatsa was quick to state that the EFF disputed the figure of R16m, saying Sars had inflated the amount after it tricked Malema to sign an admission of debt on the basis that an agreement would be reached on how the debt would be settled. Instead, the party said Malema owed only R4m.
“The debt owed to Sars by a trust (Ratanang Family) linked to the CiC (commander-in-chief) Julius Malema is not R16m, but R4m. Sars ballooned this with a 50 percent interest and 200 percent penalties to reach the R16m mark and with the intention to sequestrate him (sic).”
He said the property and assets that Sars had already liquidated covered the original tax debt.
“What is being pursued are the arbitrary interests and penalties.”
Ramakatsa said the EFF would on May 26 – the deadline for Malema to prove to the court why he should not be declared insolvent – present a “cogent and clear” submission on why the provisional sequestration should not be made final.
EFF commissar for justice and special projects Dali Mpofu weighed in, saying the party would go as far as approaching the Constitutional Court should its legal battles in the high court and Supreme Court of Appeal fail.
The party reiterated its stance that the case against Malema was politically motivated and that Sars was being used to settle such scores.
“We are aware that that there are politics behind Sars’s pursuit of the commander-in-chief (Malema), particularly as it relates to them providing misleading information in order to prevent him from holding public office,” Ramakatsa said.
“(The) EFF will never be diverted by such notions and has continued with its programmes and activities to illustrate to the people of South Africa that the current government of the Zuma ANC is corrupt, murderous and failing to meet the basic needs of our people.”
The provisional sequestration order Malema has been placed under is for unpaid taxes. Unless he proves to the court that he is not insolvent, he could be barred from taking a seat in Parliament after the May 7 general elections, should his party win sufficient votes. The Constitution prohibits any insolvent, unrehabilitated person from taking up office in Parliament or serving as a company director.
Should Malema fail to get his hefty tax bill cleared, the court would impose a full sequestration by May 26.
On Monday, Malema tried to stall his sequestration by asking the court for a postponement.
Counsel for Malema, Thekiso Mosome, asked that his criminal trial be concluded before the sequestration matter goes ahead.
In September, Malema goes on trial for racketeering and money-laundering.