Former finance minister Trevor Manuel. FILE PHOTO: Werner Beukes/ANA

JOHANNESBURG - The EFF said on Thursday it would appeal a high court ruling that instructed it to apologise to former finance minister Trevor Manuel for defamatory remarks and pay R500,000 in damages.

The party said the court erred in its judgment.

"Our constitutional jurisprudence is very clear on separating the standard to be applied to allow for free political speech, which must not be confused with normal private conversations. The court seriously erred in not applying the correct standard. The nub of our statement was that Trevor Manuel was disqualified from participating in the appointment of Edward Kieswetter to the important public position of SARS commissioner. Indeed, Trevor Manuel admits that he was conflicted. The minute nature of that conflict is neither here nor there," the EFF said in a statement.

Manuel took the EFF to court after the latter claimed nepotism in the search and appointment of the new SA Revenue Services commissioner. 

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni appointed a panel, headed by Manuel, to search for a replacement for the embattled Tom Moyane. Kieswetter was subsequently appointed tax boss in March this year.  

The red berets labeled the appointment as "corrupt" and questioned the secrecy of the interviews and appointment process.

In handing his judgement, South Gauteng High Court Judge Judge Elias Matojane said the EFF's remarks were unlawful, false and defamatory. The party, led by Julius Malema, was instructed to apologise to Manuel and remove all defamatory remarks from all its platforms, including social media. Matojane further directed the EFF to pay R500 000 in damages to Manuel and to cover his legal costs.

Africa News Agency (ANA)