Finance minister Nhlanhla Nene announced on Wednesday the appointment of an advisory committee on the South African Revenue Service (Sars), headed by retired judge Frank Kroon.
The appointment of the committee follows months of controversy over an alleged rogue unit within Sars said to have reverted to unlawful means to spy on tax payers and allegedly ran a brothel.
The allegations, published prominently in media reports, have been disputed and two distinctly different naratives have developed in different media, the other claiming Tom Monyane, Sars commissioner, is purging officials who pursued investigations into politically connected individuals’ tax affairs, including President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla tax obligations.
Against this background deputy Sars commissioner Ivan Pillay has been suspended and other top officials have resigned, including highly regarded Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay, who did so last week.
Nene said the committee will review “the events that have been reported on by the media in recent months” and advise himself and Monyane about the best way to prevent a re-occurance.
Nene said: “On this issue, I would like to inform South Africans that there are processes underway to bring about closure on this matter as soon and as amicably as possible.”
He appealed on South Africans to allow these processes to unfold “and thus bring an end to this difficult chapter in the history of our most important fiscal institution”.
During a press briefing Nene said the controversy has not impacted on Sars’s tax collections, but the interventions are necessary to prevent that from happening. He was still hopeful that the collection target will be met and said if not “there will be much to talk about between us (himself and Monyane).”
The other members of the committee are still to be finalised. The committee will advise Nene on Sars’ proposed strategic and business plans, goals and measures relating to the plans, operational and organisational plans and budget.
Nene said the appointment of the panel will strengthen Monayne’s powers and responsibilities and is authorised in the Sars Act.