The South African Federation of Trade Unions has noted the announcement by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba that President Jacob Zuma has acceded to his request for an inquiry into the tax administration and governance of the South African Revenue Service (SARS).
In normal times such an announcement would not be controversial. SARS is such an important public institution that it must be open to the closest scrutiny so that South Africans can be reassured that their hard-earned money is being properly accounted for.
In today’s abnormal times however, it is outrageous when it is announced by a minister who has been accused of so many charges relating to alleged corruption involving state-owned enterprises, when Minister Public Enterprises.
Even more despicable is that the inquiry into the nation’s tax collecting authority will be convened by a President, just days after he was accused of tax-dodging in Jacques Pauw’s The President’s Keepers, and who is every bit as much implicated in corruption as the minister.
An accused person is being asked to appoint the judge who will investigate and make a ruling on the well-documented evidence against him and his cronies!
It is also hardly surprising that the Commissioner of SARS, Tom Moyane, who is also the subject of serious allegations of complicity in the looting, is fully supportive of the process and he is willing to co-operate in an inquiry called by his alleged fellow conspirator.
In his MTBPS Gigaba said: “All are united in condemning corruption in the public and private sector and are calling for renewed efforts to combat it”. How can anybody take this grandstanding seriously when he himself faces so many charges? His judicial inquiry, appointed by the prime suspects of alleged corruption will have no credibility whatsoever with the people of South Africa.
SAFTU repeats its call for the independent public inquiry into ‘state-capture’ requested by the former Public Protector to be set up on the terms she requested, which specifically stated that because Zuma was implicated in the matter, he must allow Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to appoint a judge to lead the inquiry.
This inquiry should also look into SARS’s central role in state capture, and Gigaba’s alternative will then be superfluous and thus nothing but an attempt to replace the independent inquiry with a whitewash.