The Nugent Commission interim report is “disturbing” and reveals that SARS went “backwards”, members of Parliament (MPs) have heard.
Treasury officials were responding to public comments to the Standing Committee on Finance earlier this week. MPs called on Treasury to weigh in on developments at SARS.
Deputy director general Ismail Momoniat told MPs the president’s announcement of Tom Moyane’s dismissal on Thursday gave effect to the commission’s recommendations. Once the commission completes its work, more will be revealed of what went wrong at the revenue service.
“I would say that it is worth reading the Nugent interim report … it’s a very disturbing report,” he said.
A statement from the Presidency indicates that the president made his decision to remove Moyane after the Commission found there was significant deterioration at the revenue service under Moyane’s leadership.
The president also made the decision based on Moyane’s refusal to participate in the inquiry.
Moyane’s lawyer Eric Mabuza indicated that he would fight the president’s decision, as a Constitutional Court decision is still pending. Moyane had filed an application to stay the inquiry as well as a disciplinary hearing against him. Moyane so far won the bid to delay the disciplinary hearing.
The presidency has a deadline to submit responding papers to the matter today, November 2.
Ramaphosa ‘had no choice’
Chair of the Standing Committee on Finance Yunus Carrim said although the committee would have liked to express a view based on the final outcomes of the Nugent Commission, it welcomed the president’s decision to follow the recommendation to remove Moyane.
“We feel the president had no choice but to do what he has done, in view of the numbers emerging and in view of what is emerging almost unanimously of what has happened at SARS in the last few years.”
Matthew Parks, Cosatu’s parliamentary coordinator, was among the other public stakeholders at the meeting. Parks said that federation also welcomed Moyane’s dismissal and described it as the “most amazing news”.
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) CEO Wayne Duvenage shared similar views. “Tom Moyane was not good for SARS and not good for this country. His departure is welcome.”
Duvenage said that Moyane caused a lot of damage to what was once a “well-respected, world-class” institution.
Duvenage said that the standoff that existed between Moyane and former finance minister Pravin Gordhan was “very unhealthy” for the country.
‘War on black professionals’
However, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) viewed the president’s move as being against due and fair processes.
“This we see as part of Ramaphosa’s general war against black professionals because exactly the same treatment was recently given to Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama,” EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said in a statement.
The EFF said the Constitutional Court must still rule on the lawfulness of the Commission. “The rule of law must be respected at all times, regardless of who is suspected of wrongdoing,” said Ndlozi.