‘Tar­geted’ for re­fus­ing to scrap tax penal­ties

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - BALD­WIN NDABA

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.

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