‘Targeted’ for refusing to scrap tax penalties
FORMER senior Sars executive Makungu Mthebule “was demoted” from her R2.5 million-a-year job for allegedly refusing to scrap the penalties of a senior cabinet member who serially defaulted on tax.
Mthebule was appointed as Sars acting chief officer in 2015. Her responsibilities included ensuring former president Jacob Zuma, judges and owners of multinational companies were tax compliant.
The job had been held previously by Ivan Pillay, who was placed on suspension by Sars boss Tom Moyane following accusations that he had established a “rogue unit” within the revenue service to spy on Zuma and other high-profile politicians.
Testifying before Judge Robert Nugent’s commission, which is tasked with probing the laxity in tax administration and governance in Sars since Moyane took over in September 2014, Mthebule said Jonas Makwakwa and other executives had conspired against her in a bid to force her out of her job.
“I welcomed my new appointment. It gave me an opportunity to increase my knowledge of other activities in the industry,” Mthebule said.
However, she told Judge Nugent, her colleague Makwakwa, group executive for business and individual tax, had made her job difficult.
“Mr Makwakwa constantly harassed employees who were working under me. He always wanted to know information about the tax status of a certain politician, whom I shall not mention.
“My juniors always complained to me about Makwakwa. He wanted them to scrap the penalties of the politician. Later, he contacted me
directly,” Mthebule said.
Her testimony was part of the explosive revelations this week when the commission heard evidence from several current and former Sars executives. Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan was among those who testified.
Mthebule said Makwakwa would phone and say: “I am in Parliament and am sitting with the (politician) who wants to know about the scrapping of his penalties.
“I refused, saying the matter was going through the normal processes,” she said.
Mthebule told the commission that the plot to oust her became apparent when Moyane asked her to develop a strategy to improve services offered to VIPs.
Sars was undergoing a review of its organogram and Mthebule and others had to apply for their jobs. Little did she know Makwakwa had the final say on the appointments.