23/03/2018 06:18 SAST | Updated 23/03/2018 06:18 SAST

Nene To Sars Staff: Get Back In Line Or Hit The Road

The finance minister has warned that anyone who does not cooperate with efforts to fix Sars should leave the institution.

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.
Joshua Roberts / Reuters
Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene has read the riot act to officials from the beleaguered South African Revenue Services (Sars), Business Day reported, warning them not to interfere with efforts to fix the institution.

Nene reportedly addressed Sars staff at the agency's headquarters in Pretoria on Thursday, telling them that they were to be loyal to the country and the institution, and no individuals.

He reportedly intends cleaning up the institution and, according to sources who spoke to Business Day, told staff that anyone wanting to "pull in another direction" should leave.

"Our job is to serve the public and the people of South Africa, where we are loyal to the country and to the institution, and not specific persons or interest groups," Nene reportedly told Sars employees.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised a clean-up at Sars, and said an inquiry into the institution would take place. Fin24 reported that the inquiry will be broad, and will look further than just leadership problems.

Sars has also missed its revenue collection targets, although Treasury told Business Day this week that it was "cautiously optimistic" that the revenue service would meet its revised targets at the end of this month.

Sars commissioner Tom Moyane was suspended this week. But he is not going to go without a fight, and has sought legal advice on his options. Senior counsel advocate William Mokhari told HuffPost this week that he had been briefed by Moyane to prepare an opinion, but that no decisions had been taken yet.

Sars official Mark Kingon was appointed as acting Sars commissioner in Moyane's place. Kingon told Eyewitness News that he wanted to put South Africans' needs ahead of peripheral issues.

"If somebody is applying for a refund, there's a story behind that... I'm talking about the genuine taxpayers who need their money back and need to be served in a professional way."

He reportedly also said that he wanted to improve the relationship between Sars and the tax ombud, which had been strained.