Ramaphosa extends contract of SARS commissioner by two years

Edward Kieswetter, the commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (SARS), has had his term extended by President Cyril Ramaphosa to a further two years.

According to Vincent Magwenya, Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Kieswetter and Ramaphosa decided on the extension in order to “enable an orderly leadership transition in the organisation”.

Kieswetter was appointed SARS commissioner by Ramaphosa in March 2019 with a five-year term of employment that would run from May 1 2019 to April 30 2024.

His contract will now run until April 2026. 

Orderly leadership transition

“President Cyril Ramaphosa has extended the term of office for the commissioner of the South African Revenue Service, Mr Edward Kieswetter, to two years,” said Magwenya.

“The decision follows the agreement between the president and Mr Kieswetter to extend the tenure of the commissioner to enable an orderly leadership transition in the organisation.

“In March 2019, President Ramaphosa appointed commissioner Kieswetter in terms of Section 6 of the South African Revenue Service Act, for a five-year term that started on May 1 2019.”

According to Magwenya, Kieswetter will continue to oversee the revenue service’s execution of its current strategic direction while facilitating a seamless leadership changeover.

In order to facilitate a smooth transition within the organisation, Ramaphosa announced earlier this month that he and Kieswetter had decided to prolong Kieswetter’s employment past the end of his term.

SARS, meanwhile, verified in March 2023 that Ramaphosa and his businesses, Ntaba Nyoni Estate and Ntaba Nyoni Feedlot, had complied with their tax obligations.

Phala Phala buffaloes purchase

This followed the revelation by the DA that the contentious $580 000 (R10.5-million) that Sudanese businessman Hazim Mustafa paid in 2019 to purchase buffaloes at Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala game farm was not reported to SARS at the time of his entry to the country.

Although SARS is legally unable to disclose taxpayer information, it acknowledged in a statement in March 2023 that the president had given it permission due to the public’s “interest and concern” in the president’s affairs.

“Mindful of the considerable public interest and concern in the affairs of the taxpayers, Mr Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, Ntaba Nyoni Estate, and Ntaba Nyoni Feedlot, SARS has received the consent of the taxpayers in terms of Section 69[6] of the Tax Administration Act [TAA] No 28 of 2011 to make a public statement,” said SARS at the time.

“Without the express written consent of the taxpayer and the public officers in terms of Section 69[6] of the TAA, SARS would be prohibited by law from making this statement.” 

Never approached by the president

Kieswetter said at the time: “At no stage was I approached by President Ramaphosa, or anyone on his behalf, with any request related to his personal and/or the business entities in question.

“In taking this exceptional step to disclose the tax status of the president, with his written consent, SARS would also encourage other high-profile political office bearers and leaders in society to consider taking this proactive step as part of their commitment to transparency.

“This would go a long way towards building confidence in our country’s institutions.”

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