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PRETORIA-- President Cyril Ramaphosa has decided to appoint a new presiding officer to head the inquiry into disciplinary charges against South African Revenue Service (SARS) Commissioner Tom Moyane.

This follows an objection raised by Moyane regarding the links between Judge Kate O'Regan, who had initially been appointed as the presiding officer, and Corruption Watch, a non-Governmental organization (NGO) of which she is a board member.

While Ramaphosa is certain that Judge O'Regan would have adjudicated the matter objectively and that her position did not represent a conflict, the president decided that it would nevertheless be important to remove any possible perception of bias.

The President has therefore appointed Azhar Bham as the presiding officer for the disciplinary inquiry, a decision which has been supported by many analysts and observers, who say it eliminates all doubt around the process.

Moyane is facing 12 disciplinary charges related to alleged misconduct and violation of the SARS code of conduct.

Keith Engle of the South African Institute for Tax Professionals says the newly appointed presiding officer, Azar Bham, is experienced enough for the job. The president moves very slowly and very carefully; now I frankly didn't see the conflict of interest but he wanted to remove all and any chance of doubt.

"So the new guy Azar Bham, he's a senior advocate, he's been in some of the Gupta battles and State Capture battles before, so you looking at an experienced guy to make sure that there's not easy grounds for Moyane to gain traction, Engle explained.


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