If former SA Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Tom Moyane was "a responsible leader" he would already have stepped down in March this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa states in an affidavit submitted in a Constitutional Court application brought by Moyane.
Moyane is turning his hopes to the Constitutional Court after he was fired by Ramaphosa on Thursday afternoon.
Moyane is, among other things, disputing the lawfulness of the establishment of the Nugent Commission of Inquiry into SARS. In his view, the president and the members of the Nugent Commission "violated" the Constitution.
In his responding affidavit Ramaphosa says that already in March this year he told Moyane that he had lost confidence in his ability to lead, SARS, "one of the most important institutions in the country".
"The state of SARS would have led any responsible leader to voluntarily step down," states Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa adds that this was just a preliminary opinion on his side and led to him establishing of two inquiries into SARS. Ramaphosa said he expected that Moyane would participate fully in these processes.
Ramaphosa further states in his affidavit that former minister of finance Nhlanhla Nene had in the past already raised concerns that Moyane was not paying sufficient attention to the core mandate of SARS, particularly its revenue collection.
This was largely due to what Nene perceived at the time to be Moyane's "preoccupation with the so-called 'rogue unit'," states Ramaphosa in his affidavit.
Last month Ramaphosa accepted Nene's resignation as minister of finance. This followed Nene’s testimony before the State Capture inquiry, in which he revealed he had met with the Guptas several times between 2009 and 2014.
In Ramaphosa's view, the resolution of the problems currently facing SARS requires "the installation of effective, credible and permanent leadership" and cannot be achieved while "charges of serious misconduct hang over the head" of Moyane.
According to Ramaphosa, this in itself seriously undermines the public confidence in SARS.
Ramaphosa submits in his affidavit that SARS plays a pivotal role in ensuring that government is able to meet its developmental and constitutional objectives for the benefit of its people.
"As such, its credibility must be protected, maintained and promoted at all times," states the president.
"When it becomes apparent that its role may have been compromised, to the extent that it erodes its ability to deliver on its mandate, it is incumbent on government and on me as the president (who is empowered to appoint and dismiss the commissioner) to act promptly and decisively in order to restore that credibility in the national interest."
Ramaphosa further submits that there are currently a number of serious challenges facing SARS, "notably a decline in tax morality resulting in increased tax avoidance and evasion by the South African citizenry; a decline in effective tax administration at SARS; and significant shortfalls in revenue collection by SARS".
"The national interest requires that these problems be addressed as a matter of urgency. This is critical in order to ensure the fiscal sustainability necessary for government to deliver on its expenditure commitments and meet its constitutional obligations to the people of South Africa," he states in his affidavit.
In the view of Ramaphosa, if the problems facing SARS are not addressed as a matter of urgency, "there is a real risk of a further revenue shortfall in the current financial year which would likely result in a further ratings downgrading, by international rating agencies, for the country".
This would have "potentially catastrophic consequences" for SA's fiscal sustainability and must accordingly be avoided at all costs, he submits.
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