KINGON, MAKHEKHE-MOKHUANE AND THE SARS DEBACLEDate: 2018-10-19
Mark Kingon, the South African Revenue Service acting Commissioner, has delivered an emotional submission at the Nugent commission of inquiry in Pretoria on Friday following Wednesday's rather confusing testimony from SARS’ Digital Information Systems and Technologies chief officer‚ Mmamathe Makhekhe-Mokhuane.
Kingon, in his submission to the Nugent commission of enquiry, said that the organisation "remains in a position of uncertainty" and does not have the visionary leadership needed to take it to the next step.
"It would be true that our executive leadership is broken and unstable and racked by division and distrust. We need visionary leadership at this time and I don't think at this time we have such visionary leadership to take the organisation to the next step. Going forward, we have to fix this place. For me, it's so critical... we need vision," he said.
Nugent continued with his assessment, saying that the last four years are to blame. "The situation continues to be uncertain and tumultuous. The suspension of Commissioner Tom Moyane has capped a period since 2014 where all these narratives have played out in media. It's extremely tumultuous."
Fighting back the tears, Kingon offered an unreserved apology to the country for not living up to the organisation’s own values.
After weeks of evidence to the commission regarding how Moyane, purged staff and destroyed the organisation’s ability to collect revenue, Kingon was at pains to express his apology to, amongst others, the country's taxpayers, SARS's staff members and President Cyril Ramaphosa.
He said, "For falling short of the high standards of performance we've always set for ourselves, for not living up to the Sars values and higher purpose, the poor communication, the unfair treatment and the fear and pain staff members may have been subjected, I give that apology unreservedly."
Kingon's testimony to the commission comes at the end of a week that included acting group executive for IT strategy and architecture, Andre Rabie, describing the current situation at SARS's as “pointing to the imminent collapse of the digital infrastructure at SARS” as a result of Gartner’s services and a R200m bill.
But that wasn't what dropped the jaws of the public and left the commission confused. That honour goes to SARS’ Digital Information Systems and Technologies chief officer‚ Mmamathe Makhekhe-Mokhuane.
On Wednesday, Makhekhe-Mokhuane ended up being ridiculed on social media after her television interview on SABC's morning news show and then, later, her obscure testimony at the commission. Her incoherent responses and off-topic, obscure metaphors had her SARS staff at the inquiry's overflow room apparently laughing out loud.
In response to a question regarding a reluctance at SARS to implement new IT strategies‚ Makhekhe-Mokhuane used the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir as an analogy.
“The Drakensberg choir was established in 1967 and it's a boys’ choir‚ if I may say that”, she said.
To which retired judge, Robert Nugent, responded, “What’s the point?”.
“If you're a girl‚ the establishment doesn't allow you to go there. You know... But it's 2018‚ but the Drakensberg will remain as a boys’ choir and they sing quite well. Okay‚ let's not go to the choir if you allow me‚” Makhekhe-Mokhuane continued.
“SARS is or was highly regarded‚ but in my view‚ I think we also became arrogant and they know that I call them imaginary beauty. We have been beautiful. Therefore‚ nobody can tell us anything. So‚ you have to tell them as much as you were beautiful when you were 18 years old‚ now you are 50 years old‚ you are no longer as beautiful as you were 18 years ago.”
And then she insinuated that advocate Frances Hobden‚ who was leading the evidence, was mentally challenged and that it was “beyond a waste of time” asking her questions as she had only attended four of the 14 operational meetings in her department.
The SARS website states that Makhekhe-Mokhuane has “several” Information Technology diplomas and an MBA from the University of North West. Although, after Wednesday's exposure, many of the public have questioned that.
If you still haven't seen the SABC interview with Makhekhe-Mokhuane, then take a deep breath and click play on the video below.