Picture: ANA
Picture: ANA

Sars head of IT's vague answers leave Sars inquiry baffled

By Brenda Masilela Time of article published Oct 17, 2018

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Pretoria - The Nugent Commission of Inquiry on Wednesday was left confused after the South African Revenue Services (Sars) head of the information technology (IT) department failed to give coherent answers to questions about the institution's crumbling IT infrastructure.

During question by Vuyo Kahla about what the revenue services was doing to maintain the ageing infrastructure, Mmamathe Makhekhe-Mokhuane gave a vague answer.

"Currently we are building, we have not build capability to build new solutions, so we are maintaining what we have," Makhekhe-Mokhuane said.

Kahla sought clarity about whether they were currently maintaining the infrastructure, Makhekhe-Mokhuane replied and said "within a built space".

When asked what she meant in her submission when she referred to the long tenure of Sars employees, Makhekhe-Mokhuane spoke about the Drakensburg Boy's Choir and when it was formed.

"Drakensberg Boys Choir was established in 1867 and in 2018 girls are still not allowed to sing."

The comment was met with puzzlement, and she then abandoned the analogy.

The commission also heard that during her time at Sars, out of 14 meetings she attended only four.

She refuted the claims as "classified rubbish". 

Head of the commission retired judge Robert Nugent, offered for her to inspect the records which were provided to the commission.

Makhekhe-Mokhuane responded saying: "I have a very rare eye disease, but let's try."

She raised issues about her signature not being on the minutes.

Nugent said the issue was not whether they have her signature, but whether they were accurate.

Makhekhe-Mokhuane lashed out at Nugent and said she does not report to him.

"I report to the commissioner as I put it on record, I'm not going to sit here and discuss whether I attended meetings because as and when I get assignments, I get them from the commissioner," she said.

"In my understanding of your terms of reference -- is to look at the governance but not what I do as a chief officer including when I go to the bathroom. With due respect sir, please protect me."

As she continued, Makhekhe-Mokhuane spoke about financial challenges which prevented Sars from executing its mandate.

She said there were budget cuts which led to the inability to service the ageing infrastructure. Makhekhe-Mokhuane said in March the unit required R388 million, but only received R88 million, but in some instances, she kept saying R80 million.

She said this led to the digital and IT divisions not to function to their full capacity.

Makhekhe-Mokhuane referred to failures at the North West after the province did not meet its revenue target of R10.6 million, only collecting R10.3 million.

She was told that Treasury gave Sars R270 million, and was asked what had been done with the funds.

Makhekhe-Mokhuane said nothing had been done and claimed that they had a meeting on Thursday to determine what was going to be done.

On Tuesday, an interim report by Nugent was released where he recommended that President Cyril Ramaphosa must fire suspended Sars commissioner Tom Moyane immediately.

“We stress that the replacement of Mr Moyane is not a panacea, but only the first necessary measure without which there is no possibility of rectifying the damage that has been done to Sars, and any further recommendations will be fruitless…” the report read.

The hearings are set to continue until Tuesday, the final submission is expected by end of November.

African News Agency (ANA)

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