SARS STATE CAPTURE
NATASHA MARRIAN: Let inquiry at ground zero get a move on
The overhaul recommended by Bain, the consultants brought in by Tom Moyane, turned the institution on its head
A commissioner removed under a cloud, a scandal involving an illicit affair between a taxman and a tobacco attorney who turned out to be a spook, an alleged covert unit spying on politicians and taxpayers, spies and politicians playing a harrowing game of Russian roulette with the institution at the heart of the nation’s purse. This is the recent history of the South African Revenue Service. Roughly a decade ago it was emblematic of distinction in governance — becoming a leader of innovation in the state. The institution’s critical role in a developmental state such as ours is clear — social grants and services to communities such as clinics and hospitals are all funded by revenue collected by SARS. Yet it became the first site of state capture, with politics and intrigue colluding to dismember it as an institution. The inquiry set up for this purpose, months in the making and years overdue, must now urgently begin and conclude its work so that this key democratic institution can re...