Editorials 29.6.2018 08:50 am

The tax rogues must face the music – and so must Zuma

Former Sars commissioner Tom Moyane speaks during a press briefing held at Sars offices in Pretoria on 14 March 2018. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Former Sars commissioner Tom Moyane speaks during a press briefing held at Sars offices in Pretoria on 14 March 2018. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Mismanagement and looting are the hallmarks of a failed state.

We should be worried – very worried – about what has been emerging at the Nugent Commission of Inquiry into tax administration and governance at the SA Revenue Service (Sars) during the time it was headed by Tom Moyane.

It is already bad enough that Moyane has been shown to be behind the ludricrous “rogue unit” attempt to smear good revenue service employees and derail or delay high-profile tax investigations. But what the “rogue unit” narrative was, was also a pretext to do serious restructuring within the tax collection system – restructuring which not only hurt individual and business taxpayers, but also negatively affected the government’s revenue stream.

Former Sars chief operating officer Barry Hore claimed at the commission that, under Moyane, the organisation had been deliberately delaying refunds to taxpayers, sitting on the money as a way to artificially boost revenue figures and hide a slide in tax administration.

The former head of the Sars Large Business Centre (LBC), Sunita Manik, testified that Moyane had broken up the centre in a way, she believes, which was fraudulent and showed a desire to access the money her unit handled.

This “breaking” of the centre could, she said, have given officials direct access to high-worth individuals and could have allowed those officials to personally negotiate tax settlements…something the LBC prevented.

In addition, after the closure of the LBC, each tax refund was queried, meaning money did not flow back into the economy where it belonged.

It is no wonder, then, we had a shortfall of R50 billion in tax revenues…which led to the recent hike in VAT.

Moyane and the rest of those around former President Jacob Zuma must be held to account for what looks like economic sabotage. And Number One himself must face the music.

Mismanagement and looting are the hallmarks of a failed state.

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