SARS commissioner Tom Moyane briefed Parliament's standing committee on finance on Tuesday File photo: ANA

JOHANNESBURG - The Democratic Alliance (DA) has welcomed the suspension of South African Revenue Service (SARS) Commissioner Tom Moyane, saying that it also demands a full investigation of the revenue service under Moyane's leadership.

The Presidency announced late on Monday that Moyane was "suspended with immediate effect" pending the institution of disciplinary proceedings.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said Moyane's suspension was in the public interest to restore the credibility of SARS without delay.

Ramaphosa said that developments at the Sars under Moyane's leadership have resulted in a deterioration in public confidence in the institution and in public finances being compromised and that for the sake of the country and the economy, this situation cannot be allowed to continue or to worsen.

The Presidency said that concern was raised in particular about the manner in which Moyane handled the matter of former senior tax officer Jonas Makwakwa and the management of VAT refunds, which had brought the Sars into serious disrepute and potentially jeopardised the integrity of the Sars and adversely affected tax morality among tax payers.

Last week, Moyane announced the resignation of Makwakwa after he was cleared of charges of misconduct. Makwakwa, who was the chief officer for business and individual tax, resigned with immediate effect after working at Sars for 22 years.

Makwakwa was suspended and investigated over suspicious payments into his bank account. The payments were red-flagged by the Financial Intelligence Centre in 2016, and Moyane was forced to suspend Makwakwa after this was reported in the media.

Moyane had earlier on Monday held a meeting with Ramaphosa in which he was offered an opportunity to resign with immediate effect, but he declined.

DA spokesperson on finance, Alf Lees, Tweeted that it was strange that Ramaphosa waited until the eleventh hour to suspend Moyane as he was due to appear before Parliament on Tuesday.

"The DA welcomes the suspension of Tom Moyane as Commissioner of Sars. This step is long overdue given the destruction of the reputation of SARS whilst under the leadership of Tom Moyane. This, in turn, has led to a severe decline in taxpayer morality," Lees said.

"Whilst the resignation of Makwakwa and the suspension of Moyane as SARS Commissioner is welcomed it is not the end of the matter, a new and respected person must be appointed as the SARS Commissioner and the full investigation of SARS management under Moyane is demanded."

Meanwhile, the Presidency said that Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene is expected to announce the appointment of an acting Sars commissioner soon.

Mark Kingon, who replaced Makwakwa as as acting chief officer of business and individual taxes (BAIT), had been appointed as action Commissioner of Sars.

Kingon, a respected senior executive who has risen through the ranks of the organisation, has been with Sars since its establishment for close to 34 years. He is currently the group executive of relationship management within BAIT.

Lees also said that the DA welcomes Kingon's appointment as acting SARS Commissioner, urging him "to take action to restore Sars reputation including ensuring that [former president] Jacob Zuma pays fringe benefits tax on his Nkandla palace".

- African News Agency (ANA)