In a late-night move, President Cyril Ramaphosa has suspended South African Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Tom Moyane.
The under-fire tax service boss has been informed of his suspension, which takes effect immediately, the Presidency said in a statement.
Ramaphosa said his decision was in the public interest and was a move to restore the credibility of SARS as quickly as possible.
The decision came after a meeting between Ramaphosa and Moyane, during which the head of state said he had “lost confidence in [Moyane’s] ability to lead SARS”. Moyane was given the opportunity to resign, but declined.
In a letter to Moyane, a section of which was made available in the Presidency’s statement, Ramaphosa said: “Developments at the SARS under your leadership have resulted in a deterioration in public confidence in the institution and in public finances being compromised. For the sake of the country and the economy, this situation cannot be allowed to continue, or to worsen.”
Concern was raised in particular about the manner in which Moyane handled the matter of Jonas Makwakwa, the former SARS chief officer for business and individual tax, his treatment of the report given to him by the Financial Intelligence Centre, and his failure to immediately report this to the Minister of Finance, the Presidency said.
Makwakwa resigned from his position last week. Makwakwa, was accused of money laundering after the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) flagged cash deposits of R1.7-million made into his bank account. Times Select last week reported that the same company that made dodgy payments to Makwakwa, New Integrated Credit Solutions, had recently been appointed to collect debt owed to SARS.
“The decision to suspend Mr Moyane follows a meeting in which President Ramaphosa informed Mr Moyane that he had lost confidence in his ability to lead SARS and offered him an opportunity to resign with immediate effect, which Mr Moyane declined.
“President Ramaphosa indicated that as SARS Commissioner, Mr Moyane holds a high position of trust in the management of the country’s public finances. It was therefore necessary to act urgently and immediately to protect the institution and place it on a path to stability and recovery,” the Presidency said.
Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene will announce the appointment of an acting Commissioner for SARS.