Shedding of staff just adds to Eskom and SARS woes

THE past week has told a tale of two organisations, both with new chiefs and pivotal to the economy.

This does not look like a tale with a happy ending, at either the South African Revenue Service (SARS) or Eskom, because it is about people who have been shed and people who have fled. And whatever the merits or otherwise of these moves, it is not possible that any organisation can carry on operating optimally when its executive team has been so disrupted and it has lost so many key staff.

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SARS’s reputation needs urgent repair, say business bodies

URGENT repairs are needed to the South African Revenue Service’s reputation if it hopes to retain the trust of the taxpaying public, after reports it is running a rogue unit to gather personal tax information, leading tax and business industry bodies said on Monday.

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has been battling to restore its integrity ever since former commissioner Oupa Magashula left in disgrace a year ago following an investigation into his propriety.

Its reputation suffered another blow at the weekend with reports it may have been running a rogue unit to illegally intercept personal tax information, including that of Jacob Zuma before he became president.

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SARS bugged Zuma

A former spy master blackmailed the South African Revenue Service into paying him R3-million to keep silent about how its rogue intelligence unit broke into Jacob Zuma’s private home in Forest Town, Johannesburg, and planted listening devices.

At the time Zuma was unemployed after he had been fired as deputy president. He was in the running for the ANC presidency and had just been acquitted on a rape charge.

The spy master, known as “Skollie”, whose real name is known to the Sunday Times, was the head of SARS’s covert Special Projects Unit, later renamed the National Research Group. Continue reading

Sars target of tobacco industry backlash

A clampdown by the taxman on the tobacco industry in the past months has resulted in a backlash which has seen South African Revenue Service (Sars) investigators become the target of spies, double agents, dirty tricks and the leaking of false allegations to discredit them.

Sars revealed to The Star this haze of shady dealings under which their employees are being forced to work, in response to rumours that their group executive in charge of enforcement, Johann van Loggenberg, had resigned because of corruption allegations. Continue reading

The truth about South Africa’s fuel levy

Have South Africans paid R238-billion in fuel levies in six years? Not if you do the sums.

Anim van Wyk

Outa have been vocal against the e-toll system introduced in Gauteng in 2013. (Gallo)

Tax statistics compiled by the South African Revenue Service and the national budget indicate that the amount of money collected from South Africa’s fuel levy is quite different from the figures touted by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) and the Democratic Alliance (DA). Continue reading