The veil over events that led to destruction at the South African Revenue Service (SARS) was lifted this week at the commission of inquiry into governance at the tax agency. SARS may well emerge as a textbook case of state capture over an incredibly short period, through skullduggery and the wanton abuse of power.  The evidence presented thus far raises a critical question about why then finance minister Nhlanhla Nene approved far-reaching restructuring by consultants Bain when, as the commission heard, SARS employees were asking "why fix what’s not broken?". We are beginning to understand how the institution went from one hailed as a hallmark of excellence to one that failed to reach its revenue targets for two consecutive years, resulting in a R50bn hole in the fiscus. And one lambasted by the tax ombudsman for withholding refunds. It went from an employer of choice for professionals who described working there as "fun" and "challenging" to one in which employees sought to hide fr...

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