Finance minister Pravin Gordhan has expressed doubts in the stewardship of the state’s Revenue Service (SARS) under commissioner Tom Moyane.
The minister said in a series of written replies on Thursday, that Moyane’s leadership in the revenue service should not be trusted because of the way he has handled allegations against his second-in-command, Jonas Makwakwa.
According to him, Tom Moyane has a number of failures as SARS commissioner, these include his neglect in taking immediate action on the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) information about the R1.2m in deposits made into Makwakwa’s bank accounts and the R450,000 into Elskie’s.
Gordhan also claimed the commissioner failed to report the Makwakwa matter on time to Gordhan as the minister responsible for SARS.
Makwakwa and his girlfriend, Kelly-Ann Elskie, a SARS employee, are still under thorough investigation for the “suspicious and unusual” bank transactions.
The finance Minister raised his voice concerning the reliability of the South African Revenue service (SARS) when he was replying questions in the parliament raised by DA finance spokesman David Maynier. He was asked to attest to the breakdown in relations between the minister and Moyane which Judge Dennis Davis — who heads up the Davis Tax Committee — has previously described as “intolerable”.
He said he believes it is vital to know why Moyane took more than four months after receiving the information from the FIC in May before taking action, and then only when the matter was reported in the media.
“Mr. Moyane needs to explain why he continued to allow Mr. Makwakwa to remain in his position as part of his top management team dealing with individual and corporate taxpayers and allowing him to represent SARS at hearings of the standing committee on finance
[on August 23 2016] and the Davis Tax Committee [on September 8],” Gordhan said.
“These and other matters involving Mr. Vlok Symington raise serious concerns about the stewardship of a vital fiscal institution. Further consideration will be given to substantially increase the accountability of the top SARS management for their actions and decisions.”
“This knowledge was necessary in order to protect the reputation of SARS,” he said as he charged the top SARS management to strengthening their accountability obligations so as to enhance co-operation in the service.
The finance minister has however, been charged by DA deputy finance spokesman Alf Lees, to take “decisive action to restore the battered image of SARS”.
Gordhan noted that he could not place “great reliance” on information provided by SARS, particularly in relation to the Makwakwa matter and Alf Lees proposed that a full judicial commission of inquiry, preferably headed up by Davis, be established without delay.