Ramaphosa fires embattled tax boss Moyane

Tom Moyane
Tom Moyane
Image: Gallo Images / The Times / Esa Alexander

President Cyril Ramaphosa has fired SA Revenue Service commissioner Tom Moyane.

The battle between Moyane and Ramaphosa now heads to court – the president has until Friday to respond to the embattled tax boss’s application to halt processes against him in the Constitutional Court.

His exit draws to a close a dark period in the tax agency’s history, which resulted in the exodus of dozens of experienced and skilled employees.

Ramaphosa accepted Sars commission of inquiry chair retired judge Robert Nugent’s recommendation to axe Moyane and served him with a notice of termination of employment on Thursday.

In the letter to Moyane, Ramaphosa said the investigation had painted “a deeply concerning picture of the current state of Sars and the reckless mismanagement which characterised your tenure.

“Of further, and in many ways greater, concern is your refusal to meaningfully participate in the [investigation] to assist with identifying the root causes of the systemic failures at Sars and ways in which to arrest these,” he wrote.

The tax service was once among the country’s best run and among the most efficient state institutions.

But it became a battleground of political rivalries in recent years after scandal-tainted former president Jacob Zuma filled it with acolytes.

From 2014, when Zuma appointed Moyane to head it, the tax agency repeatedly failed to meet its collection targets.

In his report after the probe, Nugent said “the day Mr Moyane took office was a calamity for Sars”, and the environment during his tenure had been characterised by fear, distrust and intimidation.

“Almost immediately, and then continuously for the next 18 months, 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,” he said.

Ramaphosa said it was evident that if the problems facing the agency were to be solved “it would be best to terminate” Moyane’s services.

Acting commissioner Mark Kingon remains in the role until Ramaphosa fills Moyane’s position.

Moyane’s attorney, Eric Mabuza, could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Moyane was suspended in March after a string of controversies around his running of Sars, including a R50bn hole in revenue collection in 2017 and a decline in taxpayer compliance under his watch.

Stabilising Sars has been flagged as a priority by the National Treasury.

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