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Gigaba ‘hedging bets’ with Sars probe

Nov 12 2017 00:00
Abram Mashego

Trouble is brewing between tax chief Tom Moyane and Malusi Gigaba after the finance minister announced an inquiry into the SA Revenue Service (Sars).

Sources who are close to Sars commissioner Moyane told City Press this week that Gigaba rushed to make the announcement on Tuesday, before they could discuss details of the probe into tax administration and governance.

“He just spoke to Moyane about the inquiry and said we should work and try to find solutions.

"The next thing he makes a public announcement before finalising how that inquiry will be carried out and its terms of reference,” one of Moyane’s allies at the organisation said.

Another source insisted that Gigaba was “playing politics” and hedging his bets ahead of the ANC’s elective conference in December.

If ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa wins the party’s presidency race next month, his announcement of the inquiry into Sars could potentially help him keep his job.

Moyane is close to President Jacob Zuma, who did not remove him when Gigaba’s predecessor, Pravin Gordhan, asked him to do so.

“[Gigaba] is trying to please the other faction. He knows that he does not have any powers to remove Moyane.

"Him making pronouncements on governance issues at Sars is problematic,” said another source close to Moyane.

On Tuesday, Gigaba announced the inquiry and said it was expected to be established soon.

Its objective is to determine the reasons for an under collection of tax and to improve performance management systems at Sars.

He said Zuma had granted his request.

“It is critical for government to determine the cause of the tax revenue undercollection in order to enable government to take urgent remedial steps to ensure that Sars is able to meet its revenue targets,” Gigaba said.

A Moyane confidant at Sars said he was “unperturbed” by the inquiry.

“The terms of reference are yet to be discussed, but no changes to the leadership have been announced for the duration of the inquiry,” the source said.

Gigaba’s spokesperson, Mayihlome Tshwete, said relations between the minister and Moyane were good. He denied there was any rift between them.

A source close to the finance ministry downplayed any ill feeling, saying: “The minister is just doing what has to be done. There is low tax morality and several issues at Sars that cannot be dealt with by the Davis Tax Committee.”

Headed by Judge Dennis Davis, it is assessing the effectiveness of the country’s tax policy framework.

“Moyane and Davis are not on good terms and the minister is trying to get them to work together.

"So an independent inquiry is needed to deal with issues affecting leadership and all the problems affecting Sars,” the source said.

During his medium-term budget policy statement in October, Gigaba announced a projected undercollection in tax of R209bn over the next three years, and a gap of R50.8bn in revenue collection in the 2017/18 financial year.

A former Sars employee who left the organisation after Moyane’s appointment, said more than 55 executives had left since he took over.

“Sars has lost people with skills and institutional knowledge and the shortfall, to me, is a result of that,” the source said.

Gigaba said on Tuesday that Moyane was told about the inquiry and “expressed his support for it and willingness to cooperate”.

sars  |  malusi gigaba  |  tom moyane

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