Regardless of the fact that the commission of inquiry into tax administration and governance at the South African Revenue Service is still ongoing, the recommendation that suspended Sars commissioner Tom Moyane be replaced with urgency is final and will not change when the final report is presented.
Retired Judge Robert Nugent made this revelation on Thursday before the commission of inquiry as he addressed some confusion surrounding the timing of his interim report, which was shared with President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this week, irrespective of the fact that the commission was still ongoing.
In his damning interim report, Nugent advises the president to replace Moyane “without delay” as a way of getting Sars “firmly on the course to recovery”.
Nugent took time before former chief operating officer Barry Hore’s testimony to explain that his interim report provided guidance on things that needed fixing in the interim while the commission continued with its work.
He made it clear that the recommendations would not change as the commission commenced.
“In fact, from all the evidence we have heard it has become clear that something is fundamentally wrong with the leadership and as more witness continue to [be] giving testimony it can only get worse,” said Nugent.
The retired judge said part of his motivation for releasing an interim report while the commission was still continuing with its work was because the filing season at Sars was ongoing and the commission did not wish to see the suspended Moyane get his hands on the recently filed tax payers’ money yet again.
Nugent said there was nothing “interim” about the report since the findings conclusive point was a problem with the leadership.
“And we won’t go back on that in the final report because it has been reported on finally. As far as we are concerned, the present commissioner should be removed as early as possible and a new commissioner put in so that precisely what the witness said yesterday can occur and get certainty in this organisation and move ahead,” said Nugent.
The judge says Moyane was given ample time to respond to the findings against him.
“We asked Mr Moyane if he’s got anything he’d like to say. He was written to in explicit terms and we said on the evidence we have there seems to be enough to reach a conclusion. We asked him if he wanted to say anything before we reach those conclusions,” said Nugent.
Nugent was adamant that it was time to put an end to the problems at Sars and to start rebuilding.
He also took time to address Sars’s testimony on Wednesday that its eFiling system was almost on the verge of collapse, saying: “For now, Sars’ eFiling is functional however if nothing is done to resolve the IT backlog the platform will no longer be supported by computer browsers by 2020”.
The commission then heard from Hore who was the driver of Sars’s modernisation programme that was moving Sars from a largely paper-based system to a more efficient digital system.
Hore, who is believed to have been targeted by Moyane as part of a purge of senior officials at Sars, testified on how the firm Gartner was brought in shortly after Moyane suspended the modernisation programme, a move which he described as having been called “disastrous” for Sars’s IT infrastructure.
Hore questioned how Gartner’s diagnostic review of Sars’ IT infrastructure was able to be completed in only a 10-week period.
“It’s not conceivable that you would be able to do a detailed review in this period unless there was a predetermined outcome for Gartner’s review,” alleged Hore.
The Global advisory firm Gartner is accused of having breached its contract with Sars in order to give a huge chunk of its R200-million tender to Moyane's alleged friend, businessman, Patrick Monyeki's company Rangewave.