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New commissioner Kieswetter seeks to make Sars respected again

Edward Kieswetter was appointed on Wednesday as commissioner of the South African Revenue Service.

Edward Kieswetter. Picture: Business Pulse International screengrab.

CAPE TOWN - South Africa’s newly-appointed tax boss has acknowledged that he has a tough road ahead.

Edward Kieswetter was appointed on Wednesday as commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (Sars).

Kieswetter was unanimously approved by the interviewing panel.

They believe that he has the best mix of experience and institutional knowledge to lead Sars.

*What the new Sars Commissioner Edward Kieswetter has planned

Kieswetter served as deputy commissioner under Pravin Gordhan between 2004 and 2009. He also served as CEO of Alexander Forbes and was part of the board appointed to clean up Transnet.

Kieswetter says that he will prioritise the people within Sars as he seeks to turn the service around.

"Sars has many challenges but for me, it’s all about people. Internally, there are many hardworking, honest people who are employed for Sars. Mark Kingon has already done a sterling job to begin to stabilise Sars, so we’ll build on that to ensure that we can restore confidence in the leadership that can be respected."

Kieswetter says one of his biggest goals will be to reform the image of Sars in the eyes of the public it serves.

“An efficient revenue authority relies on the public to also buy into a compliant structure, to buy into a good citizen and to do that, any authority must be respected. It must be seen to have integrity, must be seen to work even-handedly without fear or favour.”

Kieswetter added that Thursday's strike is unfortunate and hopes that it can be resolved amicably and as soon as possible.

Deputy Director-General at National Treasury, Ismail Momoniat, was part of the panel appointed to interview and shortlist candidates for the position.

“The panel only makes recommendations. The panel considered the challenges Sars faces and we drew up some criteria. The most important was that we needed someone who could turn around Sars after what it’s been through over the last few years.”

Political parties have largely welcomed Kieswetter’s appointment.

But the Economic Freedom Fighters is livid about the move. It’s now looking at legal options to have the appointment reversed.

The party has taken issue with the interview process, saying it was not transparent.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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