No maintenance since 2014. No upgrades. No money. That’s the state of South Africa’s Revenue Service’s most important asset – its IT infrastructure.
From City Press: Sars’ digital and IT chief officer Mmamathe Makhekhe-Mokhuane told the Nugent commission of inquiry into the tax service on Wednesday that her division suffered from severe budgetary constraints, which had forced it to focus on maintenance and not upgrading Sars’ information technology (IT).
“While we are in the midst of this journey, we experienced barriers and we had to go back to the drawing board. We focused only on what we needed to do to keep the lights on. The minimum we required was R377 million but we were only given R88 million,” said Makhekhe-Mokhuane.
IT contractor, David Wickens reinforced Makhekhe-Mokhuane’s testimony as he revealed how suspended Revenue Service commissioner Tom Moyane and those loyal to him removed him from his position of leading a team that dealt with IT procurement and continuously kept Sars infrastructure and software up to date, leaving the company’s IT system vulnerable and outdated.
During his testimony on Wednesday Wickens also revealed that, with Moyane’s arrival, the IT procurement unit that he was contracted to work in ceased to exist and he was reassigned to do non-procurement work.
Wickens’ testimony revealed how a previously well-oiled IT system that was working perfectly was overhauled by global research and advisory firm Gartner – under instruction from Moyane.
Gartner received more than R200 million in a phased tender to review and develop a new IT strategy for Sars. The digitisation programme – which started in 2007, and was meant to automate Sars’s revenue collection systems, improve efficiency and curb corruption – was supposed to be completed by 2015.