NEWS & ANALYSIS

SARS: Zuma says no to judicial commission of inquiry - Dion George

DA MP says President's attempt to sweep the issue under the rug is predictable

President Zuma rejects Judicial Commission of Inquiry into SARS

26 April 2015

In a reply to a DA parliamentary question, President Zuma rejected the DA’s call for him to institute a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the South African Revenue Service (SARS), as according to the President “there is sufficient, independent attention and investigations of the matters”. This is deeply concerning given the ANC’s ongoing cover up of the growing controversy surrounding the Revenue Service. 

Since SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane was appointed in September last year, there has been a large scale exodus of senior management, including the suspension of Deputy Commissioner Ivan Pillay, on the basis of the Sikhakhane report. 

While these suspensions have been under the guise of disciplinary action relating to the alleged wrongdoings by certain individuals, there is ample reason to believe that this is as a result of the sensitive investigations that are ongoing at SARS. These investigations include a probe into the tobacco industry – as well as a tax investigation into the ANC’s tax bill and the President’s own tax bill.

Therefore this attempt to sweep the issue under the rug is predictable.

In his reply, the President references the Sikhakane report’s recommendations, stating that “a number of processes have been put in place such as the Sikhakhane Report which made various recommendations such as the Inspector General of Intelligence to investigate the allegations of the complaints including the activities and functions of the unit within SARS”.

Crucially, the President conveniently omits the fact that the Sikhakhane report recommends a Judicial Commission of Inquiry is instituted, in terms of section 84(2) of the Constitution. 

In addition to this, reports today suggest that Ivan Pillay and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa are in negotiations, which if successful will result in Pillay being paid out R 6 million in order to leave the Revenue Service. Pillay has been particularly vocal in questioning the motives behind the purge within SARS, and this golden handshake is but another attempt to ensure he is silenced. 

I will therefore be submitting a series of parliamentary questions to the President, the Deputy President and the Minister of Finance in order to ascertain the following:

Why the President has not followed the recommendations of the Sikhakhane report;

Whether SARS is going to give suspended Deputy Commissioner Ivan Pillay a R 6 million golden handshake; 

Whether the R 6 million golden handshake was initiated and supported by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa; and

What are the terms of reference of the KPMG forensic investigation the President refers to in his reply?

The DA will continue to oppose political meddling in all public bodies responsible for the administration of taxpayers’ money.

Text of the parliamentary reply:

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

QUESTION FOR WRITTEN REPLY

Question No: 641

Date Published: 27 March 2015

Date of Reply: 20 April 2015

641.  The Leader of the Opposition (DA) to ask the President of the Republic:

Does he intend to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry into the SA Revenue Services; if not, why not?  NW722E

REPLY:

A number of processes have been put in place such as the Sikhakhane Report which made various recommendations such as the Inspector General of Intelligence to investigate the allegations of the complaints including the activities and functions of the unit within SARS. In addition, SARS has appointed KPMG to conduct a forensic investigation.

The Minister of Finance recently appointed an advisory committee in terms of section 11 of the SARS Act, chaired by retired Judge Kroon. Whilst this Committee's primary task is to guide the direction of long-term strategy at SARS, operational and organisational plans as well as budget, this Committee was also tasked to review the same allegations reported on by the media and advise the Minister as well as the Commissioner about the best way to prevent such from occurring.

I am of the view that at this stage that there is sufficient, independent attention and investigations of the matters.  

ENDS

Statement issued by Dr Dion George MP, DA Shadow Minister of Finance, April 26 2015