EDINBURGH — The state capture scandal in South Africa has provided a wealth of case studies on how not to engage with the media. Bosses at companies like Gupta-cursed KPMG and McKinsey have discovered to their peril that it doesn’t pay to remain silent or shilly shally around allegations of corruption. This week, the Guptas’ right hand man at the South African Revenue Service, Tom Moyane, will learn that it is also a bad idea to shoot the messenger. Moyane has pressed South African Revenue Service (SARS) spin doctors into action, getting them to issue a media release suggesting that journalists are undermining the integrity of the tax collection organisation. Moyane has focused on allegations that he facilitated VAT refunds for Gupta company Oakbay. Instead of blaming journalists for his woes, Moyane should explain why he worked with KPMG to eject from SARS individuals like corruption-buster Johann van Loggerenberg and push former finance minister Pravin Gordhan to the political sidelines. – Jackie Cameron
SARS Media Release
Pretoria, 19 March 2018 – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) wishes to express its deep concern and disturbance at the ongoing media onslaught that threatens to undermine the integrity of the organization.
SARS wishes to acknowledge that the media is an important institution that plays a pivotal role in our society. In fact, the average citizen, especially taxpayers, rely on its portrayal of SARS for fair and balanced views.
But SARS has observed and witnessed an unrelenting media attack that is skewed to project a misleading and unsubstantiated tone that is aimed at denting the reputation of the organization.
The latest assault focused all its venom on the SARS Commissioner Mr Tom Moyane by accusing him of illegally authorizing a VAT payment amounting to R70m to a taxpayer, despite ample proof that he had no role in the payment and had acted within the law.
SARS is concerned that this negative media campaign deliberately undermines significant successes and other achievement that reveal that the organization is solid, focused and efficient in carrying out its mandate. Some of these achievements include:
- Reaching the historic R1-trillion mark in three years, including the current year;
- R187,5 billion of high risk and possible fraudulent refunds for the past three years that SARS which could have been lost to the fiscus, with more than R28-billion of this prevented in the current financial year;
- GDP ratio of almost 27% in difficult economic conditions, the success of which was last achieved before the 2008/ 09 recession;
- The restructuring that has seen historically disadvantaged individual, especially African, rise to the highest levels of the organization;
- R2.7 billion revenue already collected under the Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme (SVDP);
- More than R205-billion paid in refunds across all tax types in the past 10 and a half months;
- Customs busts of illicit goods worth over R400-million since 1 January 2018;
- For the period April 2017 – January 2018, the numbers of busts of the following prohibited/ restricted goods increased compared to the same time last year which include clothing and textiles by 144% and Illicit tobacco by 14.6%;
- Over 55 Customs clients enjoying special benefits after being awarded Preferred Trader status since May 2017.
SARS respects media freedom and its role in holding office-bearers and public servants to account. Furthermore, the appreciation extends to the contribution of the media in exposing acts of criminality and corruption. SARS however, humbly requests balanced reporting and fairness.
SARS was pleased and has welcomed His Excellency, President Ramaphosa during his State of the Nation address where committed to ‘Shortly appoint a Commission of Inquiry into Tax Administration and Governance of SARS’.
It is to that end that SARS believes all this malicious and untruthful allegation will be better ventilated and dispelled at the envisaged inquiry. It is to this end that SARS humbly impresses on the President to find time in his busy schedule to finalize the details of the said inquiry.
It is only through such a thorough and transparent process that the true facts regarding SARS will be established and all media manufactured narratives will be exposed.