Corruption Gutted South Africa’s Tax Agency. Now the Nation Is Paying the Price.


Then, the president and his supporters went even further. They used the upheaval at the tax agency to seize greater control over the National Treasury, further enriching themselves at enormous cost to the country, according to government officials now trying to repair the damage.

The national tax agency, as prosaic as it may sound, had once been an extraordinary triumph, even for the party that helped defeat apartheid. Just a few years after it helped usher in democracy, the A.N.C. switched from liberation to the mundane workings of government and persuaded millions of South Africans to do the unimaginable: pay their taxes.

In a barometer of support for the fledgling new government, tax collections rose year after year, eventually surpassing some benchmarks in much richer, more established…

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