Sars Wars: Moyane ‘defies’ Gordhan. Restructuring on the cards.

The cards have been played and the resultant battle will hopefully not have far-reaching consequences on one of the better functioning state institutions. Current commissioner Tom Moyane has apparently defied Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s request that restructuring plans in the tax collection unit be put on hold. This after the two apparently agreed to it. The news was leaked via an internal memo. Treasury said it is unaware of any appointments. Let the games begin. – Stuart Lowman

From Fin24

Cape Town – The battle lines at the SA Revenue Service have been drawn with Commissioner Tom Moyane seemingly defying Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on the tax collections agency’s restructuring plans.

After taking office in December last year Gordhan requested that restructuring at Sars be put on hold to give him time to assess the impact of the process. An internal memo sent to Sars employees on Wednesday, however, indicates that Moyane is going ahead regardless of having agreed with Gordhan to put the restructuring process on hold.

Pravin Gordhan, South Africa's new finance minister, speaks during a media briefing in Pretoria, South Africa, on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. South Africa's government was left trying to shore up credibility after President Jacob Zuma's debacle over who should run the finance ministry called into question his ability to oversee the economy. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg
Pravin Gordhan, South Africa’s new finance minister, speaks during a media briefing in Pretoria, South Africa, on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015.

Business Day reported on Thursday that Moyane also agreed with Gordhan that there should be no leaks of information from Sars and that the tax collections agency will make announcements on routine operational matters only.

In the memo, which Fin24 has seen, Moyane said he is pleased with “the significant progress made regarding the implementation of the operating model” and internal support for the transformation process.

This process aims, among other things, to materially increase revenue and ensuring strong control over the South African ports of entry.

Read also: Donwald Pressly on SARS: In the battle with Gordhan, Moyane must go

Moyane added that the transition process at Sars continues to provide an exciting opportunity for employees to grow and develop within the organisation. In addition to 15 group executives announced in November last year, he said further announcements regarding more group executive appointments will be made in the coming weeks. The remaining group executive positions not filled internally will be advertised externally.

He also announced the appointment of 30 additional executives, who now join 29 executives who were not impacted by the review process.

On top of that, business units will be transitioned into the new operating model.

“The transition will be conducted in a phased approach to align to the principles agreed upfront, which are to minimise disruption on Sars operations and enhance our ability to maximise revenue collection, especially during this crucial period of our financial year,” Moyane said in the memo.

Read also: Thumbs up for new SARS Commissioner Moyane – but with a health warning

In September 2014, Sars was rocked by a number of suspensions and resignations of senior executives and officers after Moyane took over and allegations of a so-called “rogue unit” at Sars – allegedly set up when Gordhan was in charge – surfaced. Gordhan’s predecessor Nhlanhla Nene even appointed a committee to investigate the allegations.

Last week, the Sunday Times reported that Moyane had sought legal advice over Gordhan’s input at Sars.

Netwerk24 reported that there are questions about Moyane’s appointment last year of the international companies Bain and Company as well as Gartner Inc to review Sars’ operational model as the tender process had allegedly not been followed properly. The companies suggested, among other things, that Sars’ Large Business Centre be dissolved.

Treasury spokesperson Phumza Macanda told Netwerk24 on Thursday that it had not been informed of the appointments made by Moyane. Macanda added that all issues regarding reviews at Sars are still being considered by Gordhan. – Fin24