Johannesburg, 28 March 2018 – SAICA takes note of the unexpected news that Adv Eric Mkhawane, the CEO of the Office of Tax Ombud (OTO) has resigned after more than six years at the helm of its operations. His last day will be on 31 April 2019.
Adv Mkhawane faced a significant challenge being the first CEO of the newly created public service to taxpayers in establishing the Office of the Tax Ombud, which he accomplished with much aplomb in sometimes difficult circumstances. The OTO was by its nature a middleman for taxpayers in disputes regarding failures in service delivery by SARS, with heated exchanges the order of the day and cool heads required to mediate. As the office was initially functionally part of SARS, with its budget delegated by SARS and staff seconded therefrom, it was only independent on paper and much had to be done to build the credibility and presence of the OTO and its ability to resolve SARS service delivery matters.
The OTO under the operational management of Adv Mkhawane had achieved phenomenal success in dispelling concerns that it would not be able to be fair and transparent in resolving taxpayer complaints. Looking back, the first six months ending March 2014 only 61 valid complaints were lodged, 409 by the end of its first full year and by March 2018, 1945. In addition, over the first 5 years, 80% of complaints have been resolved in taxpayers’ favour.
SAICA has always seen the OTO as a critical stakeholder and since its inception has endeavoured to support and enhance reputation of this office. Our support and collaboration with the OTO has extended over the last few years to include advocating to Parliament for more independence for the OTO and being able to apply for systemic review. We also found common ground in seeking truth and fairness and conducted various research projects to inform systemic investigations, including the largest VAT refund data survey to date. The OTO generally and Adv Mkhawane specifically have always been receptive in seeking collaborative solutions and this legacy of collaboration will hopefully be retained by his successor.
He has exponentially evolved the Office of the Tax Ombud in the last 5 years and gained the confidence and trust of so many different stakeholders; his departure is a loss to the OTO. SAICA wishes him well in his new endeavours at the Johannesburg Bar and hopes that his skills and knowledge will continue to be retained within the broader tax fraternity.
The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), South Africa’s pre-eminent accountancy body, is widely recognised as one of the world’s leading accounting institutes. The Institute provides a wide range of support services to more than 46 000 members and associates who are chartered accountants [CAs(SA)], as well as associate general accountants (AGAs(SA)) and accounting technicians (ATs(SA)), who hold positions as CEOs, MDs, board directors, business owners, chief financial officers, auditors and leaders in every sphere of commerce and industry, and who play a significant role in the nation’s highly dynamic business sector and economic development.
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