Zuma denies links to Sars suspensions

The Presidency on Tuesday criticised allegations made by Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille linking President Jacob Zuma to the suspension of SA Revenue Service staff members.

“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,” spokesperson Mac Maharaj said in a statement. 

He said some newspapers had also tried to drag the President into the matter. On December 5, Sars commissioner Tom Moyane  announced the suspension of deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay and strategic planning and risk group executive, Peter Richer.

This followed the appointment by Pillay of a panel to investigate allegations reported in the media about a special projects unit and its alleged illegal activities at Sars. Sars chief operations officer Barry Hore had also resigned. 

Tax compliance
On Sunday, City Press reported that when Pillay read about the costs of upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead, he commissioned legal advice on the tax implications.

The advice he received was that such benefits attract tax, even if a property was built on communal trust land, as was the case with Nkandla. According to the report, Pillay read about the sprawl of businesses and trusts linked to the first family and told Zuma they needed to be made tax compliant.

Maharaj told the newspaper Zuma could not disclose all his meetings with individuals, ministers or officials, “otherwise government cannot function”.

On Friday the Mail & Guardian reported that a factor that led to Pillay’s suspension was his refusal to let a consignment of African National Congress T-shirts, imported from China, be released by customs without duty being paid.

Tax evader
In her final newsletter of the year, Zille said law-abiding taxpayers would not tolerate a President who is a tax evader.

“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 wrote.

She said Zuma did not want Sars to get too close to his tax affairs and those of his business and political associates. 

Pillay and Richer became targets because they insisted that Zuma pay “Nkandla” tax, that the ANC pay its T-shirt customs duty, and that investigations continue into the affairs of Zuma and other top ANC officials. – Sapa

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