What is SARS trying to hide in the Sikhakhane report?
08 January 2015
The DA notes the suspension of SARS head of strategic planning and risk Peter Richer yesterday, after his initial suspension was withdrawn by the Labour Court last month.
Both Richer and SARS deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay were suspended by SARS commissioner Tom Moyane on 5 December last year, based on the findings and recommendations in the Sikhakhane report.
The report, which was compiled following an investigation into the alleged "rogue spy unit" within SARS, is said to be riddled with inconsistencies, and "flawed in fact and law".
This has led to a considerable amount of controversy over the past months, with allegations strongly suggesting that the investigation is merely a front for a politically motivated purge within SARS.
On 16 November last year, I wrote to the Chairperson of the Finance Portfolio Committee, Yunus Carrim, requesting that he summon Moyane to appear before the committee, and to table the report. This request was overlooked, and neither Moyane nor the report appeared before the committee.
I subsequently submitted a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application on 11 December last year to gain access to the Sikhakhane report, which has been unjustifiably stalled on procedural grounds by SARS officials on two separate occasions.
These events do nothing but increase the suspicion already held, and point towards an emerging trend where the independence of state institutions is gradually being eroded, with evidence now suggesting that even the state bureaucracy is involved in preventing access to this report.
The DA is committed to ensuring that all state institutions are completely independent and free from political interference. In order to do so, the Sikhakhane report must come before Parliament for evaluation and consideration.
SARS said yesterday that the report would be made public only after its own internal and external processes have been concluded. This is extremely problematic, as this report and its findings is what is informing and guiding these internal and external processes, yet it is still being withheld from Parliament and from the public. Accountability cannot possibly ensue if the processes precede the release of the report.
I will today be writing to Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, requesting that, as a matter of urgency, the report be tabled on its first sitting day in terms of rule 302 of the National Assembly.
The DA will continue to ensure all public bodies are held to the highest account and are free from any political meddling, especially those responsible for the administration of South African tax-payers' money.
Statement issued by Dr Dion George MP, DA Shadow Minister of Finance, January 8 2015
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