Finance minister Tito Mboweni has appointed a panel to interview candidates and to recommend a suitable candidate for the top job at the South African Revenue Service (Sars).
The panel is chaired by former finance minister Trevor Manuel.
Mboweni is overseeing the initial phase of the appointment, but President Cyril Ramaphosa will make a final decision.
Commissioner Tom Moyane was dismissed from the position in 2018 after Ramaphosa lost faith in his ability to lead Sars amid allegations of corruption and after revenue collection disappointed. Sars stalwart Mark Kingon has been acting commissioner since March 2018.
There is pressure on Ramaphosa to ensure that Sars is soon restored to its former glory after the controversial operating model introduced under Moyane’s watch saw the dismemberment of the large business centre and led to an exodus of staff.
Following the surprise announcement that Absa Group CEO Maria Ramos would retire at the end of February – just a few days before Absa is due to release its year-end results – speculation has been rife that Ramos, a former director-general of National Treasury, has been earmarked as Sars commissioner.
But the minister’s announcement on Thursday that the panel overseeing the appointment of the new commissioner will be chaired by Manuel, Ramos’s husband, rules her out as a candidate.
The appointment of a panel to oversee the appointment of a new commissioner follows recommendations by the Nugent Commission after their investigation into governance issues at Sars.
Nugent recommended the people appointed to the selection panel should be “apolitical and not answerable to any constituency, and should be persons of high standing who are able to inspire confidence across the tax-paying spectrum”.
The panel has already commenced its work, and the process is expected to be completed in the next few weeks.
Industry insiders expect an appointment to be made before the start of the new financial year on April 1.
Other panel members include Angela Bester, judge Dennis Davis, Sindi Mabaso-Koyana, Ismail Momoniat, Thandi Orleyn and Fezekile Tshiqi.