JOHANNESBURG. — President Cyril Ramaphosa will proceed with a commission of inquiry into the South African Revenue Service (SARS), after the tax agency’s commissioner Tom Moyane was suspended. Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko said in an SMS to Fin24 yesterday that the commission would be “broader” than the disciplinary proceedings against Moyane.
The Presidency told Fin24 yesterday afternoon that it was working on the terms of reference for the commission of inquiry. Details are not ready to be announced yet.
Parliament’s standing committee on finance, meanwhile, said in a statement that it welcomed the decision to suspend Moyane, adding that a disciplinary inquiry into his conduct should be “fair, swift and decisive”.
The head of SARS was suspended by President Ramaphosa on Monday evening pending the institution of disciplinary proceedings.
In a scathing letter to the tax agency head, dated March 19 and seen by Fin24, President Ramaphosa told Moyane that developments at the revenue agency under his leadership had resulted in a “deterioration in public confidence in the institution and in public finances being compromised”.
Moyane had earlier on Monday written a letter to Ramaphosa saying that he would approach the courts for an urgent interdict if he were suspended or dismissed.
It is not yet clear whether he has, in fact, done so.
A commission of inquiry into tax administration and governance at SARS was first announced by former president Jacob Zuma in November 2017.
Mr Zuma agreed to the investigation after former finance minister Malusi Gigaba expressed concern about the tax shortfall. Gigaba, in his February budget speech, had announced a R48,2bn revenue shortfall for the 2017/2018 financial year.
President Ramaphosa then mentioned the inquiry in his maiden State of the Nation Address in February.
Judge Dennis Davis, chairperson of the Davis Tax Committee (DTC), agreed yesterday that the issues plaguing SARS would not be cleared up by removing Moyane.
“We need a proper investigation. The commission is not about Moyane. We’ve got widespread perceptions that SARS isn’t working as it should. We need to understand whether these perceptions are grounded in reality,” Davis told Fin24 by phone.
Davis, who was in May 2017 accused by Moyane of “attacking” the revenue agency, leading to a breakdown in trust, said the president was legally entitled to remove Moyane. All he needed to show are rational grounds. — Fin24.