Kieswetter describes State Capture report findings on Sars as tragic

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The South African Revenue Service’s Commissioner (Sars) Edward Kieswetter has given his immediate reaction to the Zondo Commission’s report into state capture.  He says however, that the organisation continues to go through the report with a fine-tooth comb and will formulate a more comprehensive response at a later time.

The State Capture report into Sars essentially echoed the findings of the earlier Nugent Commission, which included the finding that there had been the deliberate dismantling of Sars’ tax collecting and governance abilities during former Sars Commissioner, Tom Moyane’s tenure.

The report fingers former President Jacob Zuma, management consultancy Bain & Co., and Tom Moyane as co-conspirators in seeking to bring about the demise of the institution.

The current Sars Commissioner Edward Kieswetter has welcomed the State Capture report, calling the findings a tragedy.

“One begins to get a sense – even if you don’t get to the detail – you get a sense of how significant the capture of Sars was to the overall project of state capture. So it wasn’t that Sars, by all accounts and now confirmed as did the Nugent report further confirmed by the Zondo report – by all accounts, this was just not capturing Sars as just another institution, but capturing Sars as an institution, was central to the entire project of state capture. “

One of the major recommendations put forward by the Zondo Commission is that Tom Moyane face charges of perjury for lying to Parliament about his involvement in enabling one of his friends to be a debt-collecting agency for Sars. Commissioner Kieswetter says all those involved must be brought to book.

“I cannot underscore more emphatically, without singling out any individual out, that unless there is full consequence that is borne by every single individual who became complicit and compliant in that project of state capture, whether of Sars or the other institutions that the report bears out, then we would have let ourselves and every South African down.”

The Zondo Commission has also directed that investigations be made into the lawfulness or otherwise of any contracts entered into by Sars with Bain & Co. Kieswetter says it is doing its part to help ascertain the facts.

“Sars will re-double its efforts to ensure that those who became complicit or compliant have to answer to these cases because that’s what we can do in the interests of South Africans. So that we set a clear tone that acts that undermine our democracy such as we have experienced in the decade that we refer to never happen under our watch again.”

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo handover the State Capture report to President Cyril Ramaphosa:

Good Progress

Asked how far along efforts are in rebuilding the tax-collecting institution post the previous dispensation, Kieswetter says good progress has been made, but that it’s a process.

“The rebuilding of Sars is going to require hard work. you know it takes years to build institutional integrity and capability and, as we have seen, can be destroyed in a short time. So there are both the hard aspects, such as rebuilding competency, rehiring skills in areas that we require them, but there’s also the soft side – the issues of trust and integrity, winning the hearts and minds of people. “

The Commissioner of Sars began hiring new staff last year, including some of those who were purged in the previous administration.

This follows National Treasury reinforcing the organisation with much-needed resources in last year’s budget.

Sars says it is studying the findings of the State Capture Report: