Professor Michael Katz – the man in the middle of Moyane’s demands

  • MichaelKatz
When the attorneys representing suspended South African Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Tom Moyane wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s lawyers on 2 July, one of their key demands was that Professor Michael Katz be removed from the commission looking into tax administration and governance at SARS. Their reason was simply: Katz has a close relationship with the president.
by TALI FEINBERG | Jul 12, 2018

Moyane’s lawyers, Mabuza Attorneys, wrote to Ramaphosa that “this renders Professor Katz as an assumed agent or extension of yourself... leading to bias”. So, they demanded that he “remove Professor Katz as your appointed assistant to Judge Nugent” – referring to retired Judge Robert Nugent, who is leading the commission of inquiry.

Despite these attempts to undermine his integrity, Katz’s record shows the opposite. He has been described as a giant in the fields of law, taxation and corporate governance who has made an enormous contribution to the success and stability of the South Africa’s corporate, legal and financial sectors.

He is the chairperson of ENSafrica, specialising in corporate and commercial law. In a career that spans more than 50 years, he was appointed by the South African government to chair the Commission of Inquiry into Taxation in 1995 (known as the Katz Commission), and as part of this, nine “Katz Reports” were completed under his leadership.

Katz was appointed by Chris Liebenberg, who was finance minister at the time, to also chair the Tax Advisory Committee, as well as to serve as a member of the Security Regulation Panel. Following these activities, he was presented with a Tax Honorary Fellowship Award by the South African Institute of Tax Practitioners (SAIT).

He also chaired the Committee for the Restructuring of the Johannesburg Securities Exchange to review its structure and operations, and was on the board of directors of the South Africa 2010 FIFA World Cup. In addition, Katz has received various academic appointments and lifetime achievement awards.

In short, he is highly qualified to look into misconduct at SARS and advise how to rebuild the organisation.

Over and above that, he has played a towering role in the South African Jewish community and civil society. From 1983 to 1991, he served first as national chairman and then as president of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD).

“During these watershed years, when South Africa was engaged in a difficult and still very uncertain process of social and political transition, he provided the kind of calm, wise and forward-looking leadership that the Jewish community needed,” says the SAJBD’s David Saks. “Since then, he still assists its leadership in dealing successfully with some of its most daunting challenges.”

He is a trustee of numerous trusts, including The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, The Constitution Hill Trust, The Legal Resources Trust, The Constitutional Court Trust, The Donald Gordon Foundation, and The South African Holocaust and Genocide Foundation. He is also a member of the Board of Governors of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

He is definitely a man to have in your corner. His relationship with Ramaphosa appears to be a close friendship, and the professor may have acted as an attorney for Ramaphosa in the past. When approached by the SA Jewish Report, Katz declined to comment.

It remains to be seen if Ramaphosa will recuse Katz from the commission of inquiry, but with his expertise, it could be to the detriment of the investigation and the country as a whole.


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