Sitting in parliament this week, SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Tom Moyane couldn’t have struck a lonelier pose. His tenure at the revenue service has been a car crash — a stark contrast to that of his predecessors, Pravin Gordhan and Oupa Magashula.
The confirmation of that was evident in the cold numbers in this week’s budget: a R48.2bn hole in tax collections.
There are many reasons for this, one of which is a vastly reduced willingness of a shrinking group of citizens to facilitate looting by paying their taxes. Tax morality, in other words, is at a striking low.
Just as well that Moyane is likely to be an early casualty of the Cyril Ramaphosa era. But rebuilding Sars will take far longer, as many skilled tax officials have left in recent years. Yet, Moyane’s deputy, Jonas Makwakwa, remains at Sars — despite alarming evidence of suspicious payments into his account of R1.3m.
What is more disturbing is that a number of companies seem complicit in Sars’ governance puncture. Take Hogan Lovells, which was hired by Sars in 2016 to "investigate" Makwakwa. Only, it turns out those "suspicious transactions" are still "being investigated" elsewhere — so it was no surprise when Makwakwa was "cleared" of disciplinary charges. Hogan Lovells effectively legitimised that decision.
Surely it is time for the firm to repay the fees it earned?