President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed Edward Kieswetter as the new South African Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner.
Kieswetter’s five-year term begins on May 1 and his appointment was based on a recommendation to Ramaphosa by Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni, who appointed a panel headed by Trevor Manuel which conducted interviews for the post.
The task of Sars commissioner is a daunting one, given the need to rebuild the institution after the destructive reign of former commissioner Tom Moyane, which culminated in a R142-billion hole in revenue collection over the last five years. The need to restore Sars capacity is critical to stabilise government finances.
Kieswetter’s appointment comes amidst intense political wrangling over control of the tax agency by factions within the ANC as well as some opposition parties.
The Economic Freedom Fighters party has indicated it will fight Kieswetter’s appointment in court, citing his proximity to Manuel as among its reasons for rejecting him even before his appointment was formally announced on Wednesday.
“We have every confidence that Mr Kieswetter has the experience, integrity and skills required to turn Sars around by restoring revenue collection, redirecting operations toward innovation, developing future leaders for the organisation, and restoring Sars’ credibility and integrity,” Ramaphosa said in a statement.
The process to appoint the commissioner was based on recommendations by the commission of inquiry into administration and governance at Sars headed by retired Supreme Court Judge Robert Nugent.