Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, left, and SARS commissioner Tom Moyane.  Pictures: TREVOR SAMSON
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, left, and SARS commissioner Tom Moyane. Pictures: TREVOR SAMSON

FINANCE Minister Pravin Gordhan has responded to publicly visible tension between him and South African Revenue Service (SARS) boss Tom Moyane, saying it is "absolutely unacceptable" for the head of a government entity to be "defiant" of the executive authority responsible for that entity.

The minister was responding to questions at a PwC post-budget function on Friday.

"If there is such defiance, one must ask the question: what is there to hide? What has been going on in this place over the last 18 months that somebody does not want to account to the new minister on?" he asked.

"We’ll get to the bottom of that at some stage but I’m still hopeful that mature minds will come forward and that we put the interest of the country and the economy … first."

When asked what he would do if he were finance minister, former finance minister Trevor Manuel, who spoke at the same PwC function, said: "I'd take 20 seconds and use it to craft a letter of dismissal for Tom Moyane."

Mr Gordhan also confirmed that he had received a letter from the Hawks last week Friday but that "in the interest of" the country, the economy and not destabilising the budget, he "thought it necessary to keep quiet" about it until after the delivery of the budget. He referred to the letter as "totally outrageous".

The letter from the Hawks questions Mr Gordhan’s knowledge of an alleged rogue unit at the tax agency. It is understood the letter has also asked about the employment of former SARS deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay.

"Never heard of in the 20 years of democracy in SA where one part of the state begins to tackle a minister in office and hopefully later today or early tomorrow I intend to put all the facts on the table," Mr Gordhan said.

He reiterated that there were matters to be sorted out between the Treasury and SARS management.

Commenting on why Mr Moyane was not present at a press briefing Mr Gordhan hosted in Parliament ahead of the delivery of his budget, Mr Gordhan said: "The presence of the SARS commissioner is subject to the whims and fancies of the minister. If you want him there you can have him there. It is at the discretion of the minister."