South Africa

DAYS OF ZONDO

Five things to know about the State Capture Commission’s findings and recommendations on SARS

Illustrative image | Former president Jacob Zuma. (Photo: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Felix Dlangamandla) | Former South African Revenue Service commissioner Tom Moyane. (Photo: Gallo Images / Phill Magakoe) | The SA Revenue Service in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / ER Lombard)

Former SA Revenue Service commissioner Tom Moyane and former president Jacob Zuma played critical roles in capturing and dismantling the internationally regarded institution. The ‘rogue unit’ rumour was a ruse. Moyane must be charged with perjury, and all government contracts awarded to US-based consulting firm Bain & Company are suspect and must be reviewed.

The SA Revenue Service (SARS) is a classic example of how a private firm, US-based consultancy Bain & Company – coupled with government officials Tom Moyane and Jacob Zuma – captured and dismantled a state institution which in effect reined in the crooks.

Moyane, fired in 2018 after a four-year wrecking rampage, is long gone. His legacy, and that of State Capture, is one of tragedy. Under his tenure, SARS lost more than 2,000 highly skilled, senior managers and investigators due to State Capture.

Judicial Commission of Inquiry Into State Capture Report_Part 1

In the first of three reports from the State Capture Inquiry, released on Tuesday, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo dedicated 87 hard-hitting pages in his 874-page Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture Report: Part 1 to Moyane’s sins and the capture of SARS. 

These are the five things you need to know: 

  1. Zondo relied on evidence from Moyane; a former Bain & Company employee, Athol Williams, who was tasked with reviewing the firm’s contract with and actions at SARS; SARS employee Vlok Symington and former SARS head of investigations Johann van Loggerenberg; as well as former SARS commissioner and later minister of finance Pravin Gordhan. Zondo had high praise, especially for Williams, who Zondo said stood tall under severe pressure and attempts of bribery by Bain & Company to bury the truth.
  2. Zondo found Moyane and Zuma played crucial roles in capturing SARS. Zondo noted a “massive failure of integrity and governance at SARS” that started when Zuma parachuted Moyane into the prestigious position of SARS commissioner. Zuma promised Moyane the position of commissioner well in advance of Moyane’s formal appointment, and despite a process of selecting an appropriate candidate from an extensive list of suitable people. He was a man with a mission to wreck the institution. The resultant implosion was caused by “reckless mismanagement of SARS on the part of Mr Moyane. What occurred at SARS was inevitable the moment Mr Moyane set foot there. He dismantled the elements of governance one by one. This was more than mere mismanagement. It was seizing control of SARS as if it was his to have,” Zondo said.
  3. SARS became a target of State Capture because its “investigatory and enforcement capacity was a hurdle to people involved in organised crime”, Zondo found. The institution was systemically and deliberately weakened to incapacitate its efficiency. One underhand  tactic was to use the rumour of a “rogue unit” to make sweeping changes at SARS, including the disbandment of Moyane’s executive committee and hounding out of senior managers. The rogue unit rumour was a ruse, Zondo confirmed.
  4. Both Zuma and Moyane met with Bain & Company to strategise over how SARS would be brought to heel long before Moyane was appointed as the institution’s head. These meetings also preceded the eventual publishing of the tender that Bain ultimately won in order to restructure SARS. Zondo suggests a collusion to break SARS long before South Africa caught wind of the devastation to follow. “The purpose of these early ‘appointments’ was to ensure that the necessary pre-planning could be done to redirect the resources of the organisation and assume control of the organisation,” Zondo said.
  5. Zondo recommended that all Bain’s contracts with state departments and organs of state be re-examined for underhand tactics, that the police must probe these contracts and the National Prosecuting Authority is to decide whether any perpetrators are to be prosecuted. Zondo further recommended that the SARS Act should be amended to provide for an open, transparent and competitive process for the appointment of the commissioner, and that Moyane must be charged with perjury in relation to false evidence to Parliament.

Zondo tipped his hat to the Nugent Commission of Inquiry into SARS, the first investigation that found Moyane and Bain & Company at fault. Zondo’s is the second commission to highlight Moyane’s devastating effect at the institution, which Zondo described as a culture of fear and bullying.

Zondo said the evidence before him and his own recommendations dovetail with the findings and recommendations of the Nugent Commission. 

SARS is a shadow of its former self. It is making strides towards efficiency once again, but sensitive scabs cover its wounds. These wounds can only be healed by institutional knowledge. 

A large portion of that institutional knowledge, however, is barely welcome anywhere in government. Ivan Pillay, Johann van Loggerenberg, Pete Richer and Yolisa Pikie are some of the well-known names. There are many more dedicated former civil servants from SARS who now struggle to find work.

South Africa needs a harsh look in the mirror – two commissions of inquiry have now found that the officials hounded by Moyane were on the side of efficient governance. DM

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All Comments 33

  • Jirre Pauli, how the hell can you read so fast. This report is thicker than the Bible. But thank you, if it safe me some time. But that being said, Zondo surely was not playing games in writing this Part 1 of the report. More hell to follow I guess. Field day for the better journalists, like yourself, DM, and amaBhungane that started it all with the Gupta leaks. May all your hard work be rewarded with some prominent individuals in orange clothes for the rest of their darn lives

  • It’s amazing that so much of what’s contained in this long-anticipated report has already been reported – in detail – by amazing investigative journalists (Pauli most definitely included). As a realistic citizen, do we now begin to hope that something tangible in terms of convictions will finally take place, and WHEN?? What are we looking at…. 5, 10, 15 years until we see something. What will be left of the country by then? Without drastic economic reforms AND significant FDI, what chance is there?

    • First thing is to get the ANC out of office and the EFF out of sight.
      Second thing is for the media, after doing such a fantastic job, to start supporting democratic parties with good records. No silly character assassinations, stick to the things of real, national,importance. Like which party runs the best Province and City.

  • Your journalism is excellent despite it revealing such heart-breaking information!
    What has become of this country in the hands of such people? They will go down in history as simply ‘thieves’.

  • Yes Bain needs to be nailed and they have nice deep pockets to sue, but more importantly we must lock up the crooks that appointed them and throw away the keys.

    Start with former prisoner Zuma and self proclaimed genius Moyane.

    • We can nail Bain here but little will come of that. They’ll pay a fine and carry on as before. But if a copy of this report is forwarded to the US Attorney General (or whoever else would deal with it in the US) then they’ll be treated really harshly and probably will not survive to do it again.

    • Bain & Company is just as active in the private corporate sector, with some results equally disastrous. Too many companies to mention. I hope these CEOs (who also appoint them) will now once and for all get rid of these money suckers.

  • And whistle blower Athol Williams has fled the country in fear for his life. Hopefully future releases of the report will recommend some formal protection for whistle blowers who cannot seem to find a job because they are too honest.
    Surely the big government and private institutions, particularly banks should be fighting over their services. Makes one wonder…

    • There will never be a place for straight arrows in government or corporate. i take off my hat to people like A. Williams. Which makes me wonder, if I’m face with the same situation like his, will I be able to emulate him? Will I put the safety and wellbeing of my family at risk for the government that is thankless and often in cohoots with these thieves….?

      • I am pleased to note your reference to both ‘government’ and ‘corporate’ ! The notion that ‘corporates’ are free of or not subject to similar practices, needs to be contested also ! Your question of personal responsibility/accountability for and to ethical practices is a very moot one, for which there are no simplistic answers.

  • Although it is a long read, it is manageable because, for anyone who has followed the Commission with a critical eye, so much is already known. What the 864 pages does however, is pull it all into a cohesive “big picture” such that it can be seen that getting the corrupt people into the correct positions was so vital. Zuma hand-picked TM long before his formal appointment, and he was involved in “Mafia-like” discussions with the Italian head of Bain likewise early.

    This underlines how insidious and damaging the practice of ANC cadre deployment truly is; it is the practice that made it all possible., and it is this ANC desire to control all, within and without Government, through all tiers of Government that truly is the root of all evil.

    We need a radical new approach to Government – a far smaller, far more competent Government component and far more rigorous and independent control mechanisms to ensure clean governance in all sectors of society. Fundamentally, the old secret cabal, cadre-deployed ANC management model is defunct and has no place in a modern, dynamic, successful, job-creating economy.

    So the ANC and broader society must ask itself, what do we want? And in the case of the ANC can we, as an organisation fundamentally change, re-invent ourselves, such that we can operate in a professional, competent, transparent and accountable way? I wouldn’t hold my breath on this last point.

    • You are 100% right Jon. Ideally, civil servants should not be allowed to be members of any political party, as they serve the citizens irrespective of which party governs. But concepts like the fiduciary principle will never be accepted or understood in this society.

    • You are so right Jon – “This underlines how insidious and damaging the practice of ANC cadre deployment truly is; it is the practice that made it all possible., and it is this ANC desire to control all, within and without Government, through all tiers of Government that truly is the root of all evil.”
      And this practice has been going on since more than 100 years ago when the anc was formed – control everything and everyone, no matter the cost, as long as the anc wins. It has always been and still is the reason for the existence of this corrupt organisation.

    • Jon, I agree with what you’ve said although I don’t think it was only cadre deployment that made it possible. I clearly recall feeling that JZ was going to target SARS long before TM became the commissioner. The pattern was already clear…The Scorpions, the NPA etc had all been decimated and SARS was doing too good a job so it was an obvious next target. JZ would have found a way even if cadre deployment wasn’t an ANC policy.

  • Thank you Pauli for your brave and tireless work and being one of the people who ensured that South Africa was made aware of how corruption was growing in South Africa. This report, and the wonderful reporting by yourself and many other journalists and civic organisations, is hopefully now a line in the sand that will make this pattern of behaviour more difficult to hide. I am less concerned about convictions, although the thought of massive doses of retributive justice being applied is appealing. I am more interested in what we do as a country going forward.

    How can we put processes in place, without choking procurement and placement in needless bureaucracy, that will ensure this does not happen again?

    There is also something that I am struggling to get my head around. I don’t believe that the only reason these actions were carried out by so many was for self-enrichment or to destroy South Africa. I know that many thought that what was being done was ok because it was part of a struggle against unjust, exclusionary and imposed systems. This world view doesn’t justify the destruction to the South African economy and our culture of accountability.

    How do we, as a country, reconcile this divide that is so severe that anyone on my side of the divide is ok and anyone on the other side is wrong?

    • I am very much in favour of perusing and convicting those responsible. As long as our politicians are not prosecuted, it will simply continue. They have seen how easy it is to get away with crime, to the extent that personal risk taken in corruption doesn’t even feature in their reckoning.
      Despite the ongoing revelations of corruption by the Zondo Commission, the likes of Zweli Mkize were quite happy to continue stealing from the state. This was made worse by CR patting him on the back.

  • National honours for Athol Williams and other whistleblowers – posthumously for Babita Deokaran and those who lost their lives telling the truth – as well as Pauli van Wyk and all those investigative journalists at Scorpio, amaBhungane, etc, who so painstakingly dug and sifted the dirt, at enormous personal risk. Ditto for Charl Kinnear and those police officials assassinated for doing their jobs. We are hugely indebted to them. Now please CR, bolster the NPA and those agencies that are needed to give effect to Zondo’s findings and recommendations.

  • I just want someone to go to Jail. Everyone implied in this report is still roaming around the streets and is enjoying the fruits of their theiving.

  • The sad thing is, is that nothing is going to happen.
    The NPA is so useless it is scary and sad. The fact that nobody has been charged and prosecuted since the Commission started 4 years ago is just absolutely mind boggling.
    The ANC itself benefitted from the corruption so there is no political will to move fast on slam dunk cases. If one falls, the whole house of cards will come tumbling down and they know it. Cyril knows it and he made it quite clear that ANC unity is far more important to him than SA and “our people”. He is going to kick this can down the road for as long as he can, even till after the 2024 elections.

    I hope I’m wrong, but I will bet good money on it.

  • In regard Bain : the US Justice Department should investigate Bain under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Criminal sanctions but likely an enormous fine.

  • Is Moyane another ANC cadre “retired” on a generous government or parastatal pension a la Brian Molefe or Riah Phiyega?
    One wonders why Pillay, van Loggerenberg and co have not been re-employed by SARS or at least compensated for their loss of employment under duress.

    • Barap:

      Excellent idea! Imagine letting loose 100 of the most severely wronged former senior SARS people back into SARS to target everybody mentioned in the Zondo reports. Restorative justice 🙂

      Fines against McKinsey and Bain (and those US firms involved in SAA technical) under the US’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act would run into billions of dollars. Ask the US that the proceeds get sent here specifically to fund an Anti Corruption team that can also trawl the US’s international banking surveillance data. Any dollar transaction between any parties using any banks anywhere are in that system. It is how US sanctions against persons and companies are enforced and the data is shared across EU and UK systems.

      • For those who think the US justice system is so marvelous a thing … just remember how Trump appointed an attorney general to carry out his bidding ! The only area of our system which state capture did not (yet ?) undermine, despite Dali’s valiant efforts ! Zuma and his supporters have taken seriously the lessons of novichok Putin or more likely his predecessor Stalin ! No wonder they can’t stomach an Arch, who would tell it like it is .

  • Well , virtually every “comrade” involved in the State Capture saga , even though heavily fingered for many months, are still alive and certainly kicking! When they will be brought to justice, ie, donning orange overalls, is entirely another matter! We all wish them long jail terms , but will it happen anytime soon? As for the criminals with international connections maybe, as suggested, the FBI should be alerted.

  • Tragically Frogboiler will ONLY present his recommendations to Parliament in June. Yip…the same Parliament burnt into destruction by a RET inspired gook? The question for Frogboiler is simple….which carpet am I going to sweep this under. Watch this space…more anarchy and chaos to follow. The putrid thieves won’t go down without further waves of destruction!

  • The report of grandstanding by the EFF about this report and the uncalled for ‘attack’ on Zondo’s findings especially re SARS, ignoring the Nugent commission findings … shows the depth of depravity and self serving aggrandisement of its commander in chief. It confirms what Judith February in her excellent opinionista piece pointed out how justice Cameron expressed serious concerns about the composition of the JSC – on which body this miscreant actually serves !
    NOTE : It is unfortunate that the editors chose to prevent comment on Judith’s article, on the grounds that it made mention of Covid 19, amongst several other issues !

  • All Bain contracts should just be cancelled – why waste time? They are unscrupulous crooks. Why not recruit ex- SARS staff? So essential to prosecute Moyane and cohorts – and for much more than perjury!