Tom Moyane, centre. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Tom Moyane, centre. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

President Cyril Ramaphosa must fire suspended Sars commissioner Tom Moyane immediately — regardless of what the outcome of his disciplinary inquiry is.

This is the recommendation made by judge Robert Nugent in his interim report submitted to Ramaphosa as hearings by the commission continue this week.

The report‚ seen by TimesLIVE‚ noted that Ramaphosa must give Moyane the boot and appoint a new commissioner as a first step to solving the problems plaguing Sars.

“We stress that the replacement of Mr Moyane is not a panacea‚ but only the first necessary measure without which there is no possibility of rectifying the damage that has been done to Sars‚ and any further recommendations will be fruitless,” Nugent’s report read.

Nugent said it was important that the recommendation to fire Moyane be made now and not to wait for the final report to be made public. Nugent is expected to wrap up his work by December. “We are aware that disciplinary proceedings are pending against Mr Moyane, but we consider that to be irrelevant to our recommendation. Our concern is not disciplinary transgression but, instead, the management of Sars.”

Nugent said in his report that it was imperative a new commissioner be appointed “to remove the uncertainty of Sars and enable it to be set on a firm course of recovery so as to arrest ongoing loss of revenue”.

Said Nugent: “To inspire confidence in a new commissioner of Sars the commission further recommends that he or she be appointed through an open and transparent process that is subject to critical appraisal‚ but without compromising the urgency of the appointment.”

While Nugent was investigating mismanagement at Sars‚ Moyane has been subject to a disciplinary inquiry headed by advocate Azhar Bham. The suspended Sars commissioner has since approached the Constitutional Court to set aside as unconstitutional Ramaphosa’s decision to appoint the Nugent commission, as well as his disciplinary hearing.

Nugent has since argued that the apex court should not hear Moyane’s application. In his report to Ramaphosa‚ the judge said damningly,  “the day Mr Moyane took office was a calamity for Sars”, adding, “Almost immediately‚ and then continuously for the next 18months‚ Sars was thrown into turmoil with tragic consequences for the lives of many people‚ tragic consequences for the reputation of Sars, and tragic consequences for the country at large.”

The report lambasted Moyane‚ saying his personal interests and ambitions were holding the proper functioning of Sars hostage.  Moyane further faced the wrath of Nugent for not being present during hearings and not responding to the accusations made against him.

“It is perfectly clear that Mr Moyane has no intention of engaging with the commission or confronting the evidence that has been presented and has no intention of accounting for his tenure as commissioner of Sars. That is not the character of a person fit to lead a vital public institution‚” Nugent noted.

He described the current state of Sars as “disturbing” and added that urgent intervention is required if the ongoing loss is to be arrested.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko confirmed that the president had received the report, noting that, “The president is applying his mind to the recommendations with the understanding that it is an interim report with a view that a final report is due in December.” 

Moyane’s lawyer‚ Eric Mabuza‚ said he had not received the report and did not want to comment. “I don’t know what report because, remember‚ we didn’t participate in the Nugent inquiry.”