SARS Acting Commissioner Mark Kingon is set to give evidence at the Nugent Inquiry on Friday into what is being done to steer the tax service out of its operational crisis.
A tax veteran with 34 years of service, Kingon has witnessed the agency evolve over the years, particularly during Pravin Gordhan’s tenure as Commissioner.
Gordhan, who is now the Public Enterprises Minister, is credited with turning things around at the agency. Kingon was appointed in March this year, following the suspension of his boss Tom Moyane.
Since taking up his job, Kingon has been trying to repair the agency’s tarnished image, which has been affected by declining standards and reduced public trust under Moyane’s leadership.
Kingon’s name has not featured much in the testimonies of SARS executives who have delivered explosive details of how the organisation has slipped from being one of the best-run institutions to an entity marred by operational challenges that have hampered revenue collection.
Kingon talks tough on illicit trade, revenue collection
The commission may ask Kingon to shed some light on Moyane’s “secret” trip to Russia in November 2017. The trip was approved by former Finance minister Malusi Gigaba, despite having no details about its purpose.
As part of restoring SARS, Kingon has revealed the agency is in the process of reopening the critical Large Business Centre which is tasked with collecting tax from big firms. He also plans to reopen a unit probing the illicit tobacco trade. Both units were shut down under a controversial business restructure ordered by Moyane.
Last month, former Finance minister Nhlanhla Nene extended Kingon’s term by 90 days, while Moyane’s fate hangs in the balance.
This week, Kingon told Fin24 on the sidelines of his parliamentary briefing that it was up to the president whether he should stay on, stating he was ready to serve if asked.
“We are here to serve. Obviously, there is a commission that has been appointed and a process underway regarding that. We will wait for that process to be concluded. I am doing what I can in the meantime and working hard at that,” said Kingon.
The commission, appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa, is probing the state of corporate governance and allegations of misconduct at SARS. It is separate from the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into allegations of State Capture, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.