DA claims Sars is hiding something on ‘executive purge’

2015-03-26 12:06

The controversial Sikhakhane report into a “rogue unit” at the South African Revenue Service, which set off a wave of suspensions and resignations, will remain under wraps until at least June if commissioner Tom Moyane has his way.

He made this clear during a briefing on the report to Parliament’s standing committee on finance yesterday, prompting the Democratic Alliance to issue a threat to table the report – which the party said it had – at the next sitting of the committee.

Moyane also denied reports of a purge at the institution that he took over in October last year.

Committee chairperson Yunus Carrim also revealed that there was a “complementary division of labour” between the finance committee and the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence on the troubles that have threatened the good standing of Sars.

Carrim expressed the hope that the strife within Sars could be settled “amicably” through mediation “rather than endless court processes”.

Defending the need to keep the report secret, Moyane said that it was a preliminary report and follow-up forensic investigations by the independent firm KPMG were due to be wrapped up by June.

“We shall provide the committee with all the reports when the investigation comes to a conclusion,” he said, adding that it would be prejudicial to do so beforehand.

The ANC’s Des van Rooyen agreed, but added that he had a “wishlist” of questions that he hoped would be answered – in particular who authorised the establishment of the unit and how it was funded.

Moyane’s presentation did not satisfy the DA’s David Ross, who said: “The presentation is very little and very late. Until we see the report, the narrative will not go away – that Sars is hiding something, and this is not good for Sars.”

Faced with questions from MPs, Moyane said that the highly publicised departure of senior staff members were “voluntary resignations”. Most had also fallen into a “trajectory which Sars has travelled since introducing a modernisation strategy in 2007”.

Some departures were under way before his arrival, he said, adding that “purging is not part of our vocabulary”.

Moyane had also been responding to concerns about a “brain drain” by DA MP Dion George, who named deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay, strategic planning and risk group executive Peter Richer, chief operations officer Barry Hore, deputy chief operations officer Jerome Frey and anti-corruption and security head Clifford Collings.

“These are all senior people who are not there any more. That is why I wanted the Sikhakhane report to be made public. My feeling is that there was no damning evidence [in the Sikhakhane report], but something else. The question is – why are all these senior executives gone,” said George.

After the meeting, the DA announced its threat to release the report itself, saying it was vital to clear up inconsistencies amid “allegations strongly suggesting that the investigation is merely a front for a politically motivated purge within Sars”.

The Sikhakhane inquiry examined the conduct of former Sars investigations head Johann van Loggerenberg and the existence of the “rogue unit”. Pillay and Richer were subsequently suspended.

Meanwhile, Pauli van Wyk reports that former Sars spokesperson Adrian Mackay has made submissions to the parliamentary committees on intelligence and finance.

There's no executive purge at Sars-Tom Moyane. 

“I believe it is in interest of legal justice and due process to put facts and concerns to both committees relating how Sars used the findings of various investigations to institute actions against its officials. I will be guided by the committees to how they want to treat my submissions,” he said Attempts to get a copy of his submission failed, with Carrim saying it was a matter for the intelligence committee, which in turn did not respond to a query at the time of going to press.

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