Johannesburg - While his interim report was damning on axed SA Revenue Services commissioner Tom Moyane, having recommended President Cyril Ramaphosa fire him, retired judge Robert Nugent is even more merciless in the final version of his report.
Nugent chaired the Commission of Inquiry Into Tax Administration And Governance By SARS, which probed at the affairs of the tax collection agency from 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2018.
This is the period during which Moyane was in charge.
If Moyane was aiming to do some reading over the festive season, Nugent’s report is not required reading for him. It is likely to cause him further angst.
Nugent says: “What is clear from the evidence I have summarised is that Mr Moyane arrived at SARS without integrity.”
From then on he finds nothing redeemable about the conduct of Moyane, who was appointed by former President Jacob Zuma, reportedly his friend.
Nugent says of the period under review - on Moyane’s watch, that it was “over that period what was once an admired institution became one that has evoked sufficient concern to warrant a commission of inquiry. This is what SARS was then, and what it became”.
The appointment of Moyane was with effect from September 27, 2014.
“What has become clear is that what occurred at SARS was inevitable the moment Mr Moyane set foot in SARS. He arrived without integrity and then dismantled the elements of governance one by one,” Nugent says in his final report.
“There are many elements to good governance. Principally, in any organisation, it is the oversight role of senior management structures, that are able to put a brake on abuse of authority, but senior management was driven out or marginalised at SARS, and we have seen no evidence that senior management appointed by Mr Moyane was anything but compliant.”
Moyane was conspicuous by his absence before Nugent: “The former Commissioner of SARS, Mr Moyane, kept away from the Commission from inception, appearing on one occasion only, and then only to disparage and attempt to derail the inquiry, which has continued relentlessly since then.
“It is clear that Mr Moyane does not have, and never has had, any intention of accounting for what occurred during his tenure at SARS, or of confronting the evidence the Commission has received.”
“Mr Moyane was pertinently notified each time public hearings were held, but neither he nor any representative on his behalf was ever present, except on the occasion I have mentioned.
“Indeed, on that occasion, he protested at evidence being heard in his absence, but then left the hearing before the next witness was called. He was pertinently asked whether he wished to respond to evidence that had been given in public, much of which was damning of his management of SARS, but he declined.”
Aided and abetted by the top brass, Moyane changed the good for the bad at the revenue collector, Nugent says: “The hallmark of good governance in an institution is the existence of a culture of healthy dissent. Mr Moyane substituted instead a culture of fear and intimidation.”
Nugent notes that “relations between the Commissioner of SARS and other state institutions - the National Treasury, the Auditor-General, the Davis Tax Advisory Committee, the Financial Intelligence Centre - are icy, if there is any relationship at all, and SARS has lost its former high status amongst international bodies”.