On the same day that ex-commissioner Tom Moyane renewed his bid to cross-examine Public Enterprises Minister at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture, the SA Revenue Service promised taxpayers a "new beginning".
In a statement issued late on Tuesday, the tax agency – which celebrates its 22nd anniversary in October – vowed to continue its cleanup, which has thus far seen the suspension of several executives in the wake of the findings of the Nugent Commission of Inquiry.
The latest executives to part ways with the revenue service were "protect me from yourself" IT head Mmamathe Makhekhe-Mokhuane as well as group executive of employee relations Luther Lebelo.
SARS is working on modernising and addressing skills shortages, it said. Its previous modernisation programme was halted by Moyane in 2014, after which consulting firm Gartner was controversially paid some R200m to come on board, in a process scrutinised at the Nugent commission.
On Tuesday, the revenue service told taxpayers that since the appointment of Commissioner Edward Kieswetter, it was "single-mindedly" focusing on addressing issues of internal confidence and morale among employees, "as well as restoring the trust and confidence that the public has in us".
"Along with this is the process of addressing the organisational deficiencies and skills shortages within SARS, which is integral to the much-needed rebuilding of the organisation," SARS said.
This would require "relentless effort" over the next few years, it added.
The agency noted that there had been an improvement in taxpayer compliance in the current season, despite a tough economic climate and "internal challenges" at the agency itself, which "make the work of revenue collection so much harder" and negatively impact tax revenues.
South Africa's tax revenue shortfall was revised to R57.4bn in April 2019, a R14.6bn increase on the shortfall forecast in the February budget.
The revenue service has previously vowed to crack down on non-compliant taxpayers, and opened branches on Saturdays throughout October in a bid to meet filing deadlines.
In addition to announcements that Makhekhe-Mokhuane, Lebelo and, previously, chief officer of governance, international relations strategy and communications Hlengani Mathebula would be leaving, SARS has placed Teboho Mokoena, Chief Officer: Human Capital & Development on precautionary suspension.
Draft legislation to tighten governance SARS will be tabled early next year in the wake of the Nugent commission's findings, Parliament recently heard.