Tshwane, 17 March 2022 – The Commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) Mr Edward Kieswetter has committed the organisation to promoting the use of historically marginalised official languages in the tax and customs environment.
He was speaking at the launch of the SARS multilingual tax terminology publication which contains 450 terms in our all official languages (English already existing), namely Sesotho, Setswana, Sepedi, Tshivenḓa, Xitsonga, IsiNdebele, Siswati, IsiZulu, IsiXhosa and Afrikaans. This list covers the wide spectrum of the financial terminology, such as tax, wills, and general financial business practices.
Commissioner Kieswetter, set the scene by quoting the Constitution: “The preamble of the Constitution of South Africa reminded the audience about the impact of language. We, the people of South Africa, Recognise the injustices of our past; Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land; Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity”.
He further said that “through this initiative SARS is striving to provide greater clarity and certainty to its taxpayers in all 11 official languages that would promote social justice and fundamental human rights”.
Tata Madiba (President Nelson Mandela) himself reminded us of the power of language when he said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to a man in his own language, that touches their heart.”
For centuries language in our country has always been an issue of major public interest and national policy. Some languages are on the verge of extinction because its speakers were decimated or assimilated into other cultures. Since 1994, government has been addressing this issue as language can build bridges between individuals, between communities, and in our case, can build trust and improve our service to taxpayers and traders.
The Use of Official Languages Act (UOLA) was signed into law in 2013. The Act provides for the regulation and monitoring of the use of official languages by national government for government purposes. It further requires the adoption of a language policy and the establishment of a language unit for national departments, national public entities and national public enterprises.
SARS adopted such a language policy, gazetted on 23 November 2015, and is presently implementing the policy. The SARS Language Services Unit was established, with a mandate is to make a concerted effort to develop the previously marginalised languages. It also supports the Taxpayer and Traders Education initiatives as it goes to communities to educate taxpayers in their own language about the importance of tax compliance.
This year is the 25th anniversary of SARS, a major and joyous milestone, established with the mandate to collect all revenues due, to ensure optimal compliance with tax and customs legislation and providing a customs service that protects our borders and facilitates legitimate trade.
Contributing to further our efforts the multilingual tax terminology publication is not only our gift to the taxpayers, traders and the citizens of South Africa, whose mother-tongue is not necessarily English but to our staff who interact with our taxpayers and ensures that they do so using the correct terms as approved by the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB). We acknowledge and commend this progressive piece of work done by more than 140 contributors in realising this milestone. We acknowledge the efforts of this diverse team and convey our heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DAC) and the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) and our SARS team.
Mr Kieswetter said: “The work we do at SARS touches the lives of all citizens, especially the poor and vulnerable, through the revenue we collect which enables government to provide basic services such as social grants, education and health care. All South Africans must understand this vital role that SARS plays. There is no better way to create this understanding than by speaking to our compatriots in their own language so that our work touches their hearts, as stated by Madiba”.
You can find our newly published SARS Mutlilingual Terminology Publication – Volume 1 on our SARS website. See the SARS Multilingual Terminology list here.
For more information contact [email protected]
To access this page in different languages click on the links below: