S. Africa Taps Ex-Alexander Forbes CEO to Rebuild Tax Agency

(Bloomberg) -- South African President Cyril Ramaphosa chose the former chief executive officer of the country’s largest insurance and retirement-fund adviser to restore his tax agency, which has missed annual collection targets each year since 2015.

Edward Kieswetter is being tasked with rebuilding skills and trust in the South African Revenue Service after a commission of inquiry found the previous permanent commissioner had “dismantled” the institution through mismanagement and alleged corruption under Ramaphosa’s predecessor. The agency faces a 42.8 billion-rand ($3-billion) shortfall in the year through March after weak economic growth resulted in lower-than-expected tax collections.

Kieswetter, who led Johannesburg-based Alexander Forbes Group Holdings Ltd. for six years through 2016, will take up the post on May 1, the Treasury said in an emailed statement Wednesday. He “emerged as the strongest candidate, based on his past experience as deputy commissioner for SARS between 2004 and 2009,” it said.

His appointment comes as SARS faces a strike over pay by workers affiliated with the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union. The union’s demands include an 11.4 percent increase in salary, which the revenue agency says is out of reach in the current economic climate, with February inflation at 4.1 percent. The labor union on Thursday said 11,000 of its members are on strike.

Click here to read more about the strike at the Revenue Service

During his time at Alexander Forbes, Kieswetter oversaw the company’s return to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 2014. He was also a senior general manager at Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., the state-owned power utility, from 1992 until 2000.

Kieswetter was appointed after a committee named by Ramaphosa shortlisted six candidates, including Deloitte’s head of tax in Africa, Nazrien Kader, and Mark Kingon, who took over as acting commissioner following the suspension and later dismissal of Tom Moyane.

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