Cabinet notes 'massive failure' of governance, integrity at SARS under Moyane

There was a "massive failure of governance and integrity" under former SA Revenue Service commissioner Tom Moyane, the South African Cabinet has said.

This is according to a Cabinet statement issued on Thursday.

The Presidency announced in March last year that Moyane was suspended pending disciplinary proceedings. In November, Ramaphosa fired him.

Cabinet was briefed on Wednesday by SARS on the outcome of the work of the Nugent Commission of Inquiry into Tax Administration and Governance.

Cabinet expressed its broad support for the recommendations made by the commission and indicated that Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni would oversee the implementation of its recommendations.

This would include Mboweni "leading a consultative process to amend the SARS Act to improve governance and accountability, and the potential role of an inspector general compared to a board", said the statement.

At the same time, Cabinet welcomed the appointment of Edward Kieswetter as new SARS commissioner with effect from May 1.

In the view of Cabinet, Kieswetter brings to SARS "a wealth of managerial experience which he acquired from both the private and public sector".

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Black Management Forum were among those objecting to the process of appointing a new SARS commissioner.

President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed the SARS Commission of Inquiry under retired Judge Robert Nugent in May last year.

According to the statement issued by the Department of Communication, the aim of the commission was "to stabilise SARS, restore its credibility and strengthen its capacity to meet revenue targets".

Its interim report was submitted in September 2018 and the final report in December 2018.  

Recommendations

"The commission made 27 specific corrective recommendations to rectify past harmful decisions, covering an array of areas which included procurement, organisational design and strengthening of the organisational leadership. One of the key recommendations has been the urgent appointment of the (new) commissioner for SARS," according to the statement.

Cabinet expressed its gratitude to Nugent, his panel members and the support team of the commission for its "high quality report(s), and the speed and efficiency to produce them".

Nugent told Parliament in February this year that an inspector general could be an effective reform to hold a SARS Commissioner accountable in future. Nugent put the blame for problems at SARS at Moyane's feet.

Nugent told Parliament at the time that his recommendations had to strike a balance between protecting the tax agency's autonomy, holding the commissioner accountable, improving SARS's ability to improve tax compliance, and improving synchronisation with the office of the minister of finance.

In February, Moyane's legal challenges to his dismissal culminated in losing his leave to appeal in the Constitutional Court.

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