There has been a total breakdown of trust and communication between Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and South African Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Tom Moyane.
That much is clear from a written answer to a parliamentary question put to the minister of finance by David Maynier, Democratic Alliance MP and party spokesperson on finance.
In his response, Gordhan tells Maynier that national Treasury is unable to verify the accuracy of answers pertaining to Sars, and in one instance adds this is "because of [the] lack of accountability and cooperation from the Sars top management".
In his response, Gordhan tells Maynier that National Treasury is unable to verify the accuracy of answers pertaining to Sars, and in one instance adds this is "because of [the] lack of accountability and cooperation from the Sars top management."
A silent war has been fought between Gordhan and Moyane ever since Gordhan returned to his old ministry in December last year. Gordhan visited Sars on his very first full day in office and allegedly had a testy meeting with Moyane, while Moyane has been snubbed by Gordhan at both the budget speech in February and the mini-budget in October.
Moyane, for his part, has launched Project Lion, looking into every major contract Sars entered into during Gordhan's tenure as Sars commissioner.
Maynier asked Gordhan about the disbanded High-Risk Investigation Unit (HRIU) — which morphed into the so-called "rogue unit" — but the minister replied he is unable to verify the accuracy of the information supplied by Sars.
According to Gordhan, the HRIU was dissolved in 2014 and there are no specialised units such as the HRIU in the organisation. The unit's mandate was to investigate complicated tax non-compliance and illicit dealings in high-risk environments. Gordhan expands on Sars' "multifaceted" approach and its relations with other law-enforcement agencies.
Gordhan also wasn't able to verify information given to him by Sars after Maynier asked how many bodyguards Moyane has and why.
Gordhan also wasn't able to verify information given to him by Sars after Maynier asked why and how many bodyguards Moyane has.
Sars told Gordhan it could not divulge how many bodyguards Moyane has because it "will be in breach of security measures currently in place". Different grades of bodyguard last year cost between R228,000 and R397,000 per annum.
The taxman was unable to answer Maynier's third question — about an investigation into fraud — because it is against the law. Again Gordhan added the rider: "This response has been submitted by Sars and cannot be verified by the ministry of finance."
Maynier, who told The HuffPost SA Gordhan's riders to his answers are "unprecedented", says the net effect of Moyane and Sars' failure to cooperate is that it influences people's tax morality, or their willingness to comply with tax regulations.
"Sars has become a state within a state, beyond the oversight and control of the minister. [Moyane] is however ultimately accountable to Parliament and will be called to appear before the standing committee on finance in the first quarter of next year."
"Sars has become a state within a state, beyond the oversight and control of the minister. David Maynier, DA MP
Sandile Memela, Sars spokesperson, has been requested to comment. This story will be updated once it has been received.