JOHANNESBURG Dec 1 South African Finance
Minister Pravin Gordhan has ordered an investigation into the
tax collection authority, officials told parliament on Thursday,
underlining rising tensions between the Treasury and the revenue
Gordhan has expressed concerns at the leadership of the
South African Revenue Service (SARS), saying earlier this week
he could not vouch for the accuracy of the information it
provided because of a lack of accountability and cooperation
from its top management.
SARS said in a statement on Thursday it was concerned over
the comments questioning the integrity of its leadership.
News of the latest investigation adds to the impression of a
system in turmoil after months of tension between President
Jacob Zuma and the finance minister, who himself survived a
separate probe into allegations of fraud while he was the head
The tensions have unnerved investors at a time when Africa's
most industrialized economy is stalling, with growth forecast at
0.5 percent this year by the Treasury.
An 8-member team set up by the Treasury to investigate
governance at SARS said in a presentation to parliament, seen by
Reuters, that it was studying whether the agency was
sufficiently accountable and had the capacity to deal with
illicit financial flows.
It was unclear when the probe was initiated, but Business
Day newspaper quoted the head of the committee, Dennis Davis, as
saying it had been carrying out its work for several months.
Davis could not be reached for comment at the number
provided on the committee's website. SARS spokesman Sandile
Memela and Treasury spokeswoman Yolisa Tantsi did not
immediately reply to telephone and email requests for comment.
"The implication is that he has a lack of confidence in the
top leadership at SARS," political analyst Daniel Silke said,
referring to Gordhan.
Gordhan and SARS commissioner Tom Moyane, who was appointed
in 2014 by Zuma, were at loggerheads earlier this year when
Moyane refused to halt an operational turnaround plan that had
been vetoed by the minister.
At the time, media reported that Gordhan had threatened to
resign from the cabinet unless Moyane was removed from his role.
(Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng and Mfuneko Toyana; Editing
by James Macharia and Mark Trevelyan)