There’s no executive purge at Sars – Tom Moyane

2015-03-25 15:32

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There is no purge at the South African Revenue Service, says commissioner Tom Moyane.

Faced with questions from members of Parliament about the internal strife at the institution he took over in October last year, Moyane today told Parliament’s standing committee on finance 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”.

Moyane was appearing before the committee to report on the findings and recommendations of the still-secret Sikhakhane report, which investigated the alleged activities of a “rogue” unit and which led to the suspension of senior staff members.

Some departures were under way before his arrival, said Moyane.

“This is not purging. Purging is not part of our vocabulary. People have voluntarily left, not at the behest of Sars.”

He said that only one chief executive had quit since he took over the reins, and the rest of the departures were at middle-management level.

Moyane was responding to concerns raised about a brain drain by DA MP Dion George, who said many senior executives were no longer at Sars – some were on suspension. Those that he named were Jerome Frey, Clifford Collins, Ivan Pillay, Peter Richer and Barry Hore.

“These are all senior people who are not there any more. That is why I wanted the Sikhakhane report to be made public. The reasons are not clear. 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? We can’t speculate, and we don’t have evidence. But it is very worrying,” said George.

This question led ANC MP Makhosi Khoza to ask the commissioner directly: “Are there any individuals being purged?”

Moyane defended the need to keep the Sikhakhane report under wraps until at least June, when follow-up investigations by independent firm KPMG were due to be wrapped up.

“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.

Also emanating from the recommendations of the Sikhakhane report, independent agents had also been commissioned to review broader Sars operating issues for long-term sustainability, and this would take between 18 months and two years, he said.

Calling for patience, Deputy Finance Minister Mncedisi Jonas pointed out that the Sikhakhane report was “inconclusive – a work in progress”, and required investigation and follow up.

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.

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