In the wake of Julius Malema and his business colleagues facing a judicial inquiry by the SA Revenue Service, the ANC Youth League in Limpopo has urged Sars not to get entangled in political battles.
Although the league did not mention Malema’s name in its statement, it complained about the leaking of information regarding the financial affairs of “citizens”.
Malema, the axed youth league president, is said to owe R27 million to the taxman.
“Sars must never allow itself to be used for political battles, neither should it be used as a vehicle to create confusion in society, as the moment it is compromised, people will lose confidence and trust,” said the league’s provincial spokesman, Klaas Mabunda.
“We raise our heads after observing the continuous painting of transactions which land in the hands of journalists before the actual reporting on any investigation conducted by Sars.”
Malema is said to be the subject of an inquiry after millions of rand had allegedly been deposited into his Ratanang Family Trust.
On-Point Engineers, the company linked to Malema, is also being probed by the taxman.
The league blames Sars officials and its information management systems for the information leaks.
The Sunday Independent reported that Jacob Lebogo, an ally of Malema and provincial secretary of the league in Limpopo, owes the taxman R40 000 in unpaid taxes dating from 2007.
“South Africa needs (Sars) to observe privacy as its elementary principle, as financial matters of public members, business and politicians remain in the maintenance of (its) moral integrity at all costs,” said Mabunda.
But Sars spokesman Adrian Lackay dismissed suggestions the institution was leaking tax information about its clients.
“Sars has consistently held the position that it does not and cannot comment publicly on the affairs of any taxpayer, regardless of whether it is a business, a trust or individual taxpayer,” he said.
“Taxpayer confidentiality extends to whether or not a taxpayer is under investigation.”
Lackay also denied allegations that the taxman was being used by politicians.
“Public statements by components within political parties based on emotive and rhetorical positions, without factual basis, can hardly be afforded in our country today. They serve no meaningful purpose and will not enable anyone to deal with problems at a practical level,” he added.
He said the league had the right to raise its complaints directly with the taxman, or to approach either Chapter Nine institutions or the courts, “instead of issuing questionable statements to the media”.