Presidency: President Zuma not behind SARS suspensions

DECEMBER 17, 2014

The Presidency has denied allegations that President Jacob Zuma is involved in the suspensions of two top ranking South African Revenue Service (SARS) officials.

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille alleged that President Zuma had instigated the suspensions in order "to protect himself and the ANC from paying taxes". The DA claims come after the suspensions of deputy commissioner, Ivan Pillay, and strategic planning and risk group executive, Peter Richer, earlier in December.

"The Presidency takes strong exception to the allegations made by Premier Helen Zille of the Western Cape linking the President to the suspension of some staff members in the South African Revenue Service," Presidential Spokesperson, Mac Maharaj, said in a statement.

"We have noted attempts in some newspapers as well to drag the President into the same matter.

"The President has nothing to do with any of the allegations levelled against the staff members of SARS and linking him to this matter is pure mischief."

Allegations

In her final newsletter for 2014, Zille said that President Zuma did not want SARS to get too close to his personal tax affairs and those of his personal and business associates.

"If it is true [as I believe it is] that this conflict is the result of yet another attempt by Jacob Zuma to 'capture' a state institution in order to protect himself and the ANC from paying taxes, then it will be a watershed for South Africa’s democracy," she said.

Suspensions

SARS commissioner Tom Moyane announced the suspensions in the wake of news reports of a special projects unit being run by SARS and it allegedly conducting illegal activities.

Pillay appointed a panel to conduct an investigation into the allegations and also reportedly requested that that business interests of the Zuma family be made tax compliant.

He also allegedly sought legal advice on the tax implications of the upgrades to President Zuma's Nkandla residence and was told that the benefits from the upgrades could be taxed.

Pillay was reportedly hit with his suspension after he refused to let a consignment of ANC t-shirts, that had been made in China, be released without duty being paid on it.

Zille alleged that Pillay and Richter had been targeted for essentially doing their jobs.

Pillay and Richter are set to challenge their suspensions in the Labour Court on Wednesday.