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Vol 55 No 23

Published 21st November 2014

South Africa

Hard times for the revenue service

Once a model of fiscal probity, SARS is proving as troubled as many other state institutions by factionalism, intrigue and political interference

The South African Revenue Service was one of the most effective state agencies of the post-apartheid era. Often held up as a model tax organisation for developing countries under the leadership of Pravin Gordhan in 1999-2009, it is now the latest body to be caught in the multiple controversies swirling around President Jacob Zuma and the governing African National Congress (ANC). The times since Gordhan departed to become Finance Minister have not been happy ones at SARS. Amid the scandals are three official inquiries into the conduct of leading figures in the organisation in the past two years alone. SARS Commissioner Oupa Magashula was forced out in July 2013 after allegations of impropriety. Two separate inquiries into key senior staff are under way and have now been joined by a third.

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