A QUESTION mark hangs over Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema’s political future, after the Pretoria high court provisionally sequestrated his estate on Monday.
Mr Malema has until May 26 to provide reasons why the provisional order should not be confirmed. If the order is finalised, any political aspirations he may have for a seat in Parliament would be dashed, as being an unrehabilitated insolvent prevents him from being a member of the National Assembly.
Mr Malema has consistently blamed his legal woes on political meddling. The EFF has been punted as the new party to watch due to his ground-up approach to canvassing votes. Most recently he sought to capitalise on the frustrations expressed by communities through service delivery protests, by visiting hotspots.
The provinces in which the EFF is likely to make a showing include Limpopo and Gauteng.
The EFF’s true test, however, will emerge when the party holds an internal election, which is where the last African National Congress breakaway, the Congress of the People, fell short.
The South African Revenue Service (SARS) launched the application for sequestration over a R16m tax debt relating to assessed income tax, additional tax and interest for 2005-11. The additional income was derived from the Ratanang Family Trust, which SARS claims is Mr Malema’s "alter ego".
Yesterday, Mr Malema’s counsel, Dolf Mosoma, asked the court to postpone the application indefinitely to allow the criminal case against Mr Malema, set to resume in September, to proceed. Mr Malema also indicated that he would be applying for a declaratory order setting aside an admission of liability he made to SARS acknowledging his tax debt. Mr Mosoma submitted that his client had been lured by SARS into making the admission.
He also argued that the criminal trial had a direct bearing on the issues raised by SARS.
"If a postponement were to be granted, the applicant will not suffer any prejudice.
"If the sequestration order is granted, the respondent will suffer great prejudice. His political career will be tainted."
However, Adv Nick Maritz, on behalf of SARS, argued that even if Mr Malema’s admission of liability was to be ignored, it would not have an effect on the sequestration order.
He added that SARS already had a judgment against Mr Malema for the outstanding amount, granted in 2012, to which he failed to respond.
"No one lured him into a settlement. There was a final judgment," Mr Maritz said.
In truth, he said, Mr Malema feared for his future in politics. "People who wish to stand for public office should pay their dues," he said.
Judge Bill Prinsloo denied Mr Malema’s request for a postponement, labelling it a "delaying tactic" that the court would not tolerate. He added that Mr Malema had ample time to make representations regarding the sequestration order, but had failed to do so.
"I am satisfied that the respondent has established requirements for a draft sequestration order," he said.
Mr Malema’s attorney, Tumi Mokwena, said his legal team would study the judgment.
"We’ve been given instructions to consider appealing against the judgment on the postponement," he said.
The provisional sequestration comes two weeks before the EFF launches its election manifesto in Tembisa on the East Rand.
There was a final judgment … People who wish to stand for public office should pay their dues