South Africa News

Symington tells Zondo Inquiry that SARS under Tom Moyane was a nightmare

Long-serving South African Revenue Service (Sars) official Vlok Symington has described the years under former Commissioner Tom Moyane as “a nightmare”.

He said that Sars was modernised and built up after 1994 to become recognised as one of the world’s most efficient tax administrations, but that under Moyane’s tenure of fewer than four years, this efficiency diminished.

Symington, who has worked for Sars since 1990, was concluding his testimony before deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo at the state capture inquiry.

Vlok Symington served at Sars when it was still known as inland revenue and was there when it was taken in a new direction by then-commissioner Pravin Gordhan, achieving global recognition for its efficiency.

“Many of us have lived with what we experienced as a nightmare and being given an opportunity to share what happened to us is a relief in more than one way.”

Symington said that in 2009 he set up a voluntary disclosure unit that went on to collect on average R2.5 billion a year in revenue.

But after Tom Moyane became commissioner, Sars executives were presented with a new model for the agency, designed by Bain & Company, as a fait accompli.

Bain has been implicated in the dismantling of Sars, to weaken it and repurpose it for state capture.

Symington lamented what Sars went through.

“To then see this happening to Sars, in a very short space of time – from 2014 – it was less than four years, where we could visibly see that our efficiency rate has dropped.”

Symington told Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo: “I just hope, chair, that this will never happen again and I think that your commission is instrumental in ensuring that it won’t ever happen again.”

-EWN

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