Business Leadership South Africa is ready to partner with Kieswetter’s SARS, says its CEO Bonang Mohale

April 2, 2019




Edward Kieswetter should know that he has a partner in restoring South African Revenue Services to a credible tax collector in the name of Business Leadership South Africa. There is no future for South Africa if the revenue service is not in a good state.


Last week Finance Minister Tito Mboweni introduced new South African Revenue Services (SARS) commissioner Edward Kieswetter after acting commissioner Mark Kingon had held the fort for a while. This followed the firing of the head, Tom Moyane. Notably, though, this is not the first time Kieswetter is at SARS. During his first period at SARS, Kieswetter launched the Large Business Centre and High Net Worth Individual Unit, leading to the enhancement of revenue collection and compliance.



Bonang Mohale in Johannesburg, South Africa on February 9, 2012. (Photo by Gallo Images / City Press /Leon Sadiki)




As GCE of Alexander Forbes Group Holdings, he achieved a significant turnaround of the group, with a distinct focus on governance, integrity and restoring the group’s reputation. He is definitely no stranger to complex organisations that require visionary leadership. However, he comes in at a time when SARS is recovering from an era where it had degenerated to unprecedented levels.


President Cyril Ramaphosa made it clear when he announced his appointment that Kieswetter “should turn SARS around by restoring revenue collection, redirecting operations toward innovation, developing future leaders for the organisation, and restoring SARS’ credibility and integrity”.


Kieswetter will assume his duties from 1 May 2019 on the backdrop of the report of Nugent Commission of Inquiry into SARS.


The Nugent Commission revealed that Moyane’s tenure at SARS was a tragedy for the entity and the country at large. Moyane had arrived at a SARS that was earning accolades locally and internationally. As things stand, SARS is isolated from its previous high grade amongst global bodies. As Judge Nugent had noted in the report, “employees were proud to work for SARS and skilled professionals were keen to join the organisation so as to share in that enthusiasm and pride”.


Of all the things that accompanied the arrival of Moyane at SARS, the worst is that his leadership, or lack of it, “compromised revenue collection and tax compliance”. Bearing in mind that SARS is established to collect revenue and ensure adherence to tax laws, Moyane performed poorly. At some point under his watch, SARS had a revenue gap of close to R50-billion.


Due to lacklustre systems introduced by Moyane, SARS was also losing over R7-billion per year due to illicit trade, particularly on cigarette illicit trade. When an institution through which over R1-trillion is processed per annum malfunctions, it follows without any doubt that the country’s economy will also suffer. Business also suffered a lot during his tenure as unprincipled agents ran unhindered within SARS in pursuit of their corrupt intentions.


There can be no socio-economic development in an environment where the tax collector is misfiring and entangled in illegal acts. Therefore, Kieswetter arrives as our revenue collection agency is starting to recover. The leadership preceding Kingon did not set exemplary behaviour. There was no ethical leadership, hence results showed that there was no more organisational commitment at SARS. Employees were no longer putting in any extra effort since they were being monitored through and spied on. Hence SARS suffered tremendously on its reputation and effectiveness.


Authentic leaders engage their followers in a transparent and open manner. However, that could not happen when the leadership was engaged in unscrupulous conduct. Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) views Kieswetter as facing urgent action on the following areas:

  1. Return SARS’ credibility and integrity;

  2. SARS must collect tax not play politics;

  3. Restore revenue collection;

  4. Seize the opportunities presented by new ways of working and embrace the 4IR moment;

  5. Develop a new breed of leaders at this institution.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has signalled an intention to crush corruption by announcing the new unit within the NPA, which will tackle cases emanating from the state capture commission. It would be ideal for a key institution such as SARS to be central in the fight against corruption. However, it can only play that critical role of crushing corruption if its house is in order in the first place.


Kieswetter has an opportunity to take SARS back to its glory days where it was the shining star among its peers all over the world. BLSA resolved to support all initiatives that are aimed at growing the South African economy while fostering social cohesion. These include defeating corruption in all fronts, at both the public and the private sector.


Bonang Mohale is Business Leadership South Africa CEO.






Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER


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