Defense Minister must brief Parliament on Gupta access to classified military information

The DA will write to the Chairperson of the Defence Committee to request that the Minister of Defence, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, urgently brief the committee on how the Gupta family gained access to classified military information for their Sun City wedding in 2013.
The Minister must appear before Parliament without any delay when Parliament resumes its business.
According to reports today, classified information such as dissemination maps and aviation charts of the Waterkloof air force base were sent to the Gupta family over insecure email systems, ahead of the Sun City wedding.
If these allegations are true, the Gupta family and their associates were potentially in contravention of the Defence Act, South African Revenue Service Act and the Customs and Excise Act, as they failed to request or receive any approval from the South African Civil Aviation Authority, the defence force and SARS.
The extent of the Guptas’ web of corruption is becoming increasingly evident. Not only have they captured and corrupted the ANC, they have captured our entire government including our military services to serve their interests.
Minister Mapisa-Nqakula must come before Parliament to explain this outrageous access the Guptas has had to our country’s military services.
The DA will continue to explore every possible avenue to bring an end to the utter corruption of the Guptas and their stooges.

Nkandla: SARS confirms they are investigating Zuma’s R 63 million fringe benefits tax

The DA welcomes the admission by Advocate Neo Tsholanku of SARS at the SCOPA meeting yesterday that SARS is indeed investigating the liability by President Jacob Zuma to pay tax on the fringe benefits related to his Nkandla private residence.
The DA will now write to SARS Commissioner, Tom Moyane, to ask for a firm commitment to a timeline for the completion of this investigation.
By our calculations, and in terms of the Income Tax Act, President Zuma owes fringe benefit taxes and penalties of R63.9 million on the non-security improvements to Nkandla. This is a massive amount of money that is desperately needed by the fiscus.
Tsholanku, in the SCOPA meeting glibly stated that “our auditors are working as fast as they can” to complete the investigation. However, the reality is that it has been three years since the DA first called on SARS, in March 2014, to assess the extent of the President’s Nkandla fringe benefits.
Tsholanku’s excuse won’t do. SARS cannot think that South Africans must simply accept a massive delay in enforcing Jacob Zuma’s tax liability. For three years Zuma has gotten away with evading paying tax on his palace of corruption – but that time is up.
The former Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, made it clear that items such as the cattle kraal, the chicken run, the amphitheatre, the visitors’ centre and the infamous “fire pool” built at Nkandla, had nothing to do with security considerations for the President, but only served to benefit his personal property.
It is complete nonsense for SARS to cry “complex processes” and “our auditors are working as fast as they can” after being aware of the non-security upgrades for a full three years since the matter was exposed by the DA.
While SARS is obliged by law to ensure that all taxpayers pay their taxes, President Zuma is also obliged to declare all income and benefits that have accrued to him. It seems clear that Zuma did not voluntarily declare to SARS the Nkandla fringe benefits – and if this is the case at the end of the investigation, Zuma must also be criminally prosecuted.
The DA will continue to ensure that the President is held to account for this gross misuse of public funds.

Not another cent of taxpayers’ money must be spent at Nkandla

The Democratic Alliance (DA) rejects any new or further upgrades to the President’s Nkandla home, regardless of how they are described or categorised by national government. We maintain that not another cent of taxpayers’ money must be spent for the benefit of one man.
The President must at once reject any plans by government to use public funds to renovate, refurbish, or upgrade any property at his Nkandla homestead – which has already benefitted from upgrades to the value of R250 million rand of public money.
Reports this morning indicate that the Department of Public Works has already begun the process which will see millions of rands of public money spent to refurbish the property, repair shoddy workmanship, and to address security concerns.
As things stand, corruption charges pertaining to the previous Nkandla upgrades have yet to be instituted – 1131 days after I laid such charges in terms of the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act 12 of 2004. Until such time as these charges have been investigated, and those found guilty of wrongdoing are held to account, any talk of further upgrades is outrageous.
It is shameful that a man who has single-handedly plunged our country into “junk status” should live in a palace of luxury, built and maintained with the people’s money. If Jacob Zuma wants refurbishments and upgrades, he must pay for it out of his own pocket.
The Presidency was quick out of the blocks this morning to defend Zuma and “muddy the waters” by claiming in a statement that “there are no renovations of the private houses at the President’s residence at Nkandla currently and no government department has indicated any proposal for renovations.”
This response is simply inadequate. The President must reject any and all future upgrades at Nkandla that uses public money – no matter how they are described or categorised. The South African people cannot be burdened with paying for any more upgrades, refurbishments or extensions at Zuma’s palace of corruption.
Indeed, the last bout of upgrades at Nkandla infamously saw the Constitutional Court ruling that Jacob Zuma had failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution, and he was ordered to personally pay back a portion of the expenses.
In addition to this, while President Zuma was forced to personally pay back R7.8 million, the Income Tax Act defined fringe benefit tax plus penalties and interest that President Zuma is liable to pay is estimated at R63.9 million.
The DA has since requested that Tax Ombud, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, investigate whether SARS have dragged their feet with regards to raising the tax, penalties and interest that are payable by President Zuma on Nkandla.
The DA will continue in our efforts to remove Jacob Zuma from office, so that the assault on our country, our Constitution, and the public’s money is stopped, once and for all.

Nkandla: DA request Tax Ombud investigation into SARS foot dragging on tax payable by President Zuma

Reports this weekend revealed that the South African Revenue Service (SARS) began an investigation into whether President Zuma owed fringe benefits tax on improvements to his Nkandla homestead as far back as 2014.
While President Zuma was forced to pay a measly R7,8 million towards the full cost of turning his Nkandla home into the palace that it is, the Income Tax Act defined fringe benefit tax plus penalties and interest that President Zuma is liable to pay is estimated at R63.9 million.
The DA will therefore write to the Tax Ombud, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, to request that he investigate whether SARS have dragged their feet with regards to raising the tax, penalties and interest that are payable by President Zuma on Nkandla.
In response to my written question, President Zuma evaded a direct response on whether he had declared fringe benefits tax on Nkandla by hiding behind the confidentiality of taxpayer tax matters.
Whilst the DA fully supports the principle of the confidentiality of tax matters, this confidentiality must not be abused by Tom Moyane to hide SARS failure to apply the Income Tax Act in relation to his long-standing and close friend, President Zuma.
By doing so, Tom Moyane could be complicit in tax evasion which is a criminal offence.
We believe that the 2014 SARS investigation into fringe benefits on Nkandla accrued to President Zuma has not been professionally dealt with and after three years has made no progress. The DA will continue to ensure that the President is held to account for unduly benefitting from the exorbitant upgrades to his private residence in Nkandla.

Show us your Nkandla tax returns, Mr President

In a written response to a DA parliamentary question regarding whether he declared the fringe benefits accrued to him as a result of the State-funded upgrades to his Nkandla homestead, to the South African Revenue Services (SARS), President Jacob Zuma refused to answer.
Zuma, as set out by the Income Tax Act, is liable to pay the estimated R63.9 million in fringe benefits tax on the benefits that accrued to him as a result of the extravagant upgrades to his personal Nkandla homestead.
In his response to the DA, the President answered that “tax is a confidential matter between the South African Revenue Services and the Tax-payer”. Although this is true, all the DA has asked is for him to confirm that he has declared to SARS the fringe benefit that has accrued to him in order to prove that he is indeed a law-abiding citizen.
His refusal is yet another indication of him continuously dodging accountability.
The ANC-government has become synonymous with corruption, and the President and his cronies are unashamed in the looting of the public coffers. This, when 8.9 million unemployed South Africans struggle to feed their families.
The DA will not stand for this, and we will continue to hold those in leadership accountable.
A government must deliver services to the people, not steal from them.

DA to provide Tax ombud with information about SARS refund delays

The DA has written to the Tax ombud, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, to provide him with information we have received from parliamentary questions about outstanding VAT and diesel refunds.
On 28 February 2017, the total amount of outstanding VAT refunds was R19.6 billion.
This represents a staggering increase of R 1.5 billion from the previous year, or 8% increase in the value of outstanding refunds.
It is shocking that 43 650 or 15% of a total of 343 674 claims submitted were outstanding as on 28 February 2017.
Moreover, of the 43 650 outstanding claims, it is worrying that 42% were outstanding for more than 2 months.
There was also an increase of 42% of refunds being audited.
It is indeed these audits that are at the heart of the problem.
They are either abused to, or unintentionally create, delays in refunds that result in huge cash flow problems and thus economic growth inhibitors.
It is astounding that there are VAT refunds that are 10 to 12 months overdue.
The impact on the businesses involved will have been very serious and there may well be some of the affected businesses that have been forced into liquidation or at very least out of business.
VAT vendors act as collection agents for SARS.
Businesses and small businesses in particular, have used their own cash to pay VAT on their purchases and it is morally wrong for SARS to in any way delay refunding them the very cash that they need to pay wages and to keep the business and jobs going.
It is immoral for VAT audits to be abused to meet SARS revenue income targets and if the Tax Ombud finds evidence of this sort of unethical behaviour the DA will demand that disciplinary action be taken against both those who made such policy decisions as well as those who participated in the implementation of them.
The DA is concerned that the R19.6 billion in outstanding claims could place serious strain on the national cash balances.
These cash balances, according to the provisional financing figures published by National Treasury, amounted to R210.77 billion.
This means that about 10% of the cash on hand would need to be used to refund the full amount of outstanding VAT refunds which would place the cash balances, over and above the normal monthly expenditure of the government, under severe pressure.
In addition to the referral of tax data to the Tax Ombud, the DA will take the following action to ensure that action is taken to resolve the delays in VAT refunds and thus the negative impact on economic growth and job creation:
• We will probe the SARS delegation robustly during the SARS appearance before the Standing Committee on Finance on the 28th of March 2017;
• We will submit a written question to the Minister of Finance to establish what the impact on the countries cash resources and ability to pay State employee salaries, expenses and capital infrastructure costs would be should the full backlog of VAT refunds have to be paid out.
Earlier this week, we welcomed the announcement by Judge Ngoepe that he will investigate the failures at the South African Revenue Services (SARS) that cause these reported delays in tax refunds.
However, it is imperative that the R19.6 billion be refunded and the DA questions whether SARS is currently in a position to do so.
The DA continues to urge Judge Ngoepe to efficiently and effectively investigate the failures at SARS so that they can resolve what is clearly a serious problem for business, economic growth and job creation.

DA welcomes the Tax Ombud investigation into refund delays by SARS

The Democratic Alliance welcomes the announcement by the Tax Ombud, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, that he will conduct an investigation into systemic failures at the South African Revenue Service (SARS) that result in the reported delays in tax refunds.
These delays are across the board and include VAT, Income Tax, Employee Tax Incentives and Diesel refunds which are causing considerable financial distress to businesses, especially small businesses.
Tom Moyane, the SARS Commissioner, has repeatedly claimed, in responses to questions from the DA, that there are no problems with the various types of tax refunds and that SARS is in fact performing exceptionally well in paying refunds promptly.
This has been contradicted by the exceptionally high number of calls to the DA and to professional accounting bodies for assistance from taxpayers who state that SARS have not paid the refunds to promptly.
On the 3rd of February 2017, I wrote to Minister Gordhan to request that he use the recently enacted section 16(1)(b) of the Tax Administration Act to request the Tax Ombud conduct an investigation into systemic and process failures that result in the reported delays in large numbers of tax refunds.
What has become apparent is that SARS appears to abuse aspects of tax laws that allow for extended time for audits, document requests and other delaying tactics. This may enable SARS to artificially inflate their revenue collections and reach their targets.
The DA is of the firm belief that no money from business, especially small businesses, should be abused to assist the government’s cash flow or to assist SARS to achieve target revenue collections.
What is worse is that almost every single taxpayer who raises a complaint about SARS delays with refunds expresses great frustration that SARS simply fail to keep taxpayers informed of what they require and request the same supporting documentation over and over again.
Despite taxpayers sending documents by e-mail, via e-Filing or even hand delivering hard copies, SARS claim not to have received the documentation and then SARS places the on taxpayers.
It appears that a crisis has developed inside SARS, especially under the leadership of Commissioner Moyane, as there is a climate of low morale, divisions and weak management which is now hindering the collection of revenue.
The DA urges the Tax Ombud to work swiftly and thoroughly to investigate both systemic and process failures in order to deal with what is clearly a major concern for businesses and ultimately for economic growth and job creation.