It is ironic that within days of the end of a marketing and publicity campaign by the South African Revenue Service (Sars), calling on taxpayers to do the right thing and submit their annual tax returns, that the head of the organisation finds himself accused of doing the wrong thing.
The accusation, levelled in parliament and which is being pursued energetically by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), is that Sars commissioner Tom Moyane had been “evasive” in his explanations about why the service reinstated a senior official who had been suspended after large, and apparently irregular, transactions had been identified in his, and his girlfriend’s, bank accounts.
Yunus Carrim, chair of parliament’s standing committee on finance, told Moyane: “You have not served yourself well and you have not served Sars well … there is a strong perception that he is being protected and you are feeding directly into that perception.”
Carrim said the organisation had to give serious consideration to again suspending Jonas Makwakwa, while a full investigation is carried out.
Although Moyane and Sars have angrily dismissed all criticism, the fact remains that all does not seem right and we, the tax-paying public, need answers.
There are also more fundamental questions: whether Moyane should remain as the head of the tax service and whether he should not himself be charged with criminal conduct.
Corruption Watch executive director David Lewis said as much when he noted that someone who is as evasive as Moyane should not be put in charge of such an important organ of state.
The whole Sars structure, from the commissioner down, has to be beyond reproach, otherwise it would not be able to occupy the moral high ground when calling on South Africans to “do the right thing”.