Natasha Marrian Political editor: Business Day
Tom Moyane. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Tom Moyane. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

SARS commissioner Tom Moyane has been suspended with immediate effect. 

According to the presidency, President Cyril Ramaphosa has cited among his reasons the "deterioration in public confidence in the SARS and public finances being compromised" due to the ongoing controversy at the tax agency under Moyane's leadership. 

Ramaphosa said it was in the public interest to restore the credibility of SARS without delay.

In a letter to Moyane, Ramaphosa said: “For the sake of the country and the economy, this situation cannot be allowed to continue, or to worsen.”

Earlier Business Day reported that Moyane had refused to step down after he was asked to resign by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa asked Moyane to resign on Sunday night, but Moyane said he would not do so citing the upcoming revenue results announcement.

According to sources canvassed by the Business Day, Moyane intended using the results announcement to show his success as commissioner despite the tough economic climate.

Pressure has been building for Moyane to quit. Factors include a R48bn hole in revenue collection and his leadership and handling of the allegations against his second-in-charge, Jonas Makwakwa, which has come under increased scrutiny by Parliament's standing committee on finance.  

This comes on the cusp of an announcement by Moody's on Friday on whether SA's investment status would be downgraded.

SARS on Monday issued a statement saying that Moyane was being vilified unnecessarily by the media.

Moyane last week announced the resignation of Makwakwa, after the SARS commissioner had shielded him for over a year. Moyane was presented with a Financial Intelligence Centre report into suspicious and unusual transactions into Makwakwa's personal bank accounts and that of his partner Kelly-Anne Elskie in May 2016. After a year-long investigation by international law firm Hogan Lovells, Makwakwa was cleared of all charges and returned to work after being suspended for over a year in December.

Makwakwa resigned last week after it was revealed that one of the companies channelling money into his personal bank accounts was appointed as a debt collector by SARS.

The Presidency said Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene would announce the appointment of an acting commissioner for SARS.