The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) and the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) on Wednesday called for Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba to appoint an independent judicial inquiry into tax administration and governance at the South African Revenue Service (Sars).
This follows Gigaba’s announcement yesterday that he approached President Jacob Zuma to urgently establish an inquiry, to which Zuma had acceded. Gigaba said this would happen “soon”.
Saftu said it was “despicable” that Zuma would convene the inquiry following damning tax-dodging accusations made against him in veteran journalist Jacques Pauw’s book The President’s Keepers: Those keeping Zuma in power and out of prison, when concerns about the institution’s state had been prevalent for some time.
“In today’s abnormal times however, it is [also] outrageous when [the inquiry] is announced by a Minister who has been accused of so many charges relating to alleged corruption involving State-owned enterprises, when [he was] Minister of Public Enterprises,” Saftu stated.
The newly formed trade union said that it was also “hardly surprising” that Sars Commissioner Tom Moyane, who is also the subject of serious allegations of complicity in the looting, is fully supportive of the process and that he was willing to cooperate in an inquiry called by his alleged fellow conspirator.
Saftu suggested that an independent inquiry should look into Sars’s central role in State capture.
Meanwhile Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage has also called on Minister Gigaba to start addressing the performance and revenue shortfalls at Sars, beginning with disciplinary action against Moyane over his conduct and his seemingly incompetent leadership of this vital institution.
"In our opinion, Tom Moyane is central to the breakdown in performance at Sars. Under Moyane's reign, Sars has lost a vast amount of its talent and expertise, due largely to his false accusations and purging of people like Ivan Pillay, Johann van Loggerenberg and others."
Outa said if Gigaba was serious about the performance and governance shortcomings of Sars, he would engage with civil society and the ex-Sars leadership, as well as investigative journalists to get evidence to suspend Moyane and to address the many serious issues facing Sars.
“Minister Gigaba also urgently needs to inquire into the tax affairs of his boss, the President, who is expected to set the example of tax compliance. Unfortunately, we know that will never happen, so the scene will be set for a farcical inquiry that will attempt to paint the picture of trying to address the problems at Sars, whilst the real problems remain in place,” says Duvenage.
Duvenage agreed with Saftu’s suggestion that Gigaba introduce an independent judicial inquiry into “the other side of the tax problem facing South Africa”: the excessive maladministration and corrupt spending of taxpayers’ money by government departments and State-owned entities.
“Investigating and taking meaningful action against those who perpetrate wasteful expenditure and corrupt use of tax revenues would mean there wouldn’t be a shortfall for Sars to contend with in the first place and the tax revenues would reach their intended destination to drive growth and prosperity,” stated Duvenage.