Address by the Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe, at the Annual SARS Amakhwezi Awards, CSIR Conference Centre, Pretoria
23 July 2010Programme Director;
Finance Minister, Mr Pravin Gordhan;
Deputy Finance Minister, Mr Nhlanhla Nene;
Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Finance, Mr. Thaba Mufamadi;
SARS Commissioner, Mr Oupa Magashula;
Employees of the SA Revenue Services; Ladies and gentlemen:
Thank you very much for inviting me to be part of this important occasion tonight which recognises performance excellence amongst employees of the South African Revenue Services (SARS).
Nearly all South Africans can acknowledge and appreciate the contribution that SARS make towards building our democracy.
The capacity to collect revenue from individuals and corporate citizens – to finance the provision of public services is one of the key defining features of a stable and capable democracy.
The ability of a country to borrow from the capital markets is linked to its capacity to collect taxes particularly when new money is hard to come by. As any good banker will tell you, one of the key considerations when evaluating an application for a loan is whether there is ability on the borrower to pay back, because Banks do not manufacture money.
Through SARS’s journey over the past thirteen (13) years as an integrated revenue and customs administration, we have witnessed this institution setting new benchmarks in organisational performance.
Furthermore, this organisation has contributed to a growing culture of tax compliance through persuasive tax collection from our people. We also observed that over the years this organization has delivered more than the targets promised.
While doing so, you have also managed to demonstrate what a service-driven public institution should, and indeed can, look like.
You have also demonstrated how a public institution can break the bureaucratic mould and transform itself into a responsive institution. Indeed you have also showed the country what is possible when ordinary citizens are treated in a professional manner. Your prestige as an organization defined by hard work, efficiency and integrity makes it less painful for our citizens to pay tax. You are a shining example to various departments.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The recent success of the 2010 FIFA World Cup has provided a similar example of how our public sector can work together across the silos to deliver a world-class event.
The hosting of the World Cup and the efficiency demonstrated by SARS this far highlight how the public service can work better and smarter.
We should ask ourselves if public servants work beyond the call of normal duty, as they did during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, what would stop such service excellence becoming a norm in the delivery of general public services.
The results of cooperation within government departments is a watermark and a milestone of how to put in practice the kind of cooperative governance as envisaged in our Constitution.
Should this new momentum become the ethos especially with regards to service to the poor whose circumstances leave them no option but to rely solely on the state for education, health, security, transport and shelter?
I am informed that SARS introduced the Amakhwezi recognition programme in 2007 to reward individuals and teams for their exceptional performance when they respond above and beyond the call of duty.
These exceptional individuals and teams understand their mandate which is not merely about collecting tax revenues, but contributing to support the development of our country.
Under the capable leadership of Ministers Pravin Gordhan and former Minister Trevor Manuel and Nhlanhla Nene, SARS has laid a foundation for a strong and sustainable revenue system by building an institution with a reputation for integrity, fairness and effectiveness.
But, as with the task of promoting tax compliance, maintaining this reputation and prestige is a continuous process.
One way in which we as government can leverage the investments made in SARS, especially in terms of technology, is by expanding the use of your systems for other parts of government where synergy exists.
This has already been demonstrated to great effect in the cooperation between SARS and the Department of Home Affairs in the development of an enhanced movement control system ahead of the World Cup.
Ensuring value for money for taxpayers requires of us as government to better utilise the resources at our disposal, reducing duplication and capitalising on compatibility.
It is this challenge that Commissioner Magashula, your executive team and the next generation of leaders will surely take further within this institution.
I trust we will continue to have a capable, credible ;effective and prestigious SARS to walk that journey with us and based on the quality of the people in this room tonight, I have every confidence in the future that tomorrow will certainly be better than today
Congratulations to all the winners of tonight’s Amakhwezi awards.
Thanks to you and to SARS for helping to make South Africa a country alive with endless possibilities!
I thank you.