SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane. File photo: Siyabulela Duda
Johannesburg  - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has rejected the plea by SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Tom Moyane for President Jacob Zuma to appoint a mediator to intervene in the deteriorating relationship between the two figures entrusted with public funds.

Speaking yesterdayat the Deloitte discussion about the economy, Gordhan said it was important for Moyane to respect the Treasury’s oversight role over Sars.

“There is no need for anyone to intervene. Mr Moyane is the accounting officer and like any other accounting officer is responsible to a minister and he must be responsible to a minister.

“It’s the end of the story,” Gordhan said.

Moyane last month had admitted there were “issues” between himself and Gordhan and said he had requested Zuma to appoint a person to adjudicate the tension between them. Moyane said he felt Gordhan treated him like a “little boy’’.

However, Gordhan said his work relationship with Moyane was “overstated and overplayed” , but not unimportant.

The two men have done little to quash rumours of the icy working relationship between them.

When delivering his 2017 Budget Speech, Gordhan failed to acknowledge Moyane as the head of Sars - as has been custom in his previous such speeches. The minister had earlier this year told Parliament that there was a lack of co-operation and accountability from Sars’s top management and the ministry was not able to verify the accuracy of information it received from the taxman.

He was responding to the claim by Sars that it had replaced the High Risk Investigation Unit, which was shut down in 2014 after it was accused of being a “rogue unit”.

Gordhan appeared to take a further veiled swipe at Moyane when he said those who held positions in public institutions needed to make sure those institutions gained and maintained legitimacy among the taxpayers.

“If someone doesn’t want to co-operate with the code they are required to adhere to, they must go work somewhere else.

Read also: Sars welcomes probe into VAT refunds system

“Public service requires maturity and a particular commitment to make institutions work in the public interest,” Gordhan said.

SA Institute of Race Relations chief economist Ian Cruickshanks said Gordhan was being simplistic in saying no outside intervention was needed to remedy his relationship with Moyane.

“The two men are in positions of great responsibility, surely they must find a way to sit down and thrash out their differences.

“Failure to do that will further create mistrust between them and also points to personal aims taking precedence over national ambitions,” Cruickshanks said.

Meanwhile, Gordhan said he had recently met the new SAA board.

He said while SAA seemed to be getting a “better handle” on the business, further bailouts could not be ruled out.

“It’s going to take a few years to get right and they are going to require a bailout of sorts as we go forward. More capital needs to be injected to stabilise the airline,” Gordhan said. However, he warned that it was only competent professionals who were ethical in their conduct that would turn around the fortunes of state-owned enterprises.

“This is public funds you’re risking at the end of the day.

“It’s a different proposition.

“So don’t play around with institutions where public funds are at stake.”

He added he hoped the national carrier would have a new chief executive in the foreseeable future.

BUSINESS REPORT