Former SARS Head, Oupa Magashula: from taxes to technology

John Robbie spoke to former Head of SARS, Oupa Magashula, about his latest venture, after resigning from his post 18-months ago due to a jobs-for-pals controversy. Magashula has since bought into a company selling locally manufactured smart electronic devices.

His company, Mint, reportedly purchased 75% of, Boksburg-based, CZ Electronics last year and now plans to target the middle-income market with their products. The former SARS commissioner is now the chairman of CZ Electronics, who manufacture and market Mint products including low-cost cellphones and tablets.

It’s been a fantastic transition.. It’s been a really fantastic and quiet life.

Oupa Magashula, former SARS commissioner

Magashula joins a group of entrepreneurs who have been in the business since 1969. He advised that his company sustainably employs over 300 previously disadvantaged women who produce a range of smart electronic devices.

It’s been two and a half years in the coming. To bring the smart phones and devices into the market is a really difficult process.

Oupa Magashula, former SARS commissioner

Magashula noted the difficulties he has encountered in this industry that have caused delays in launching his technology. He mentions the competition from overseas official brand manufactures (OBM’s), the Chinese market, foreign network frequencies and international certification issues as a few of the challenges they've faced thus far.

We feel now we are ready, we’ve signed up some of the distributors and wholesalers and some of the network providers have come on board. So we are ready to make the devices available to the population in South Africa

Oupa Magashula, former SARS commissioner

CZ Electronics is also involved in the proposal to produce the Digital TV set-up boxes.

For the first time, it is manufacturers of electronic goods in South Africa that have tendered for. We think we have a very good chance. We [CZ Electonics] have 15 to 20 years experience in producing decoders.

Oupa Magashula, former SARS commissioner

Magashula was hesitant to comment on the ‘clean-up’ situation at SARS, particularly the current media attention around the on and off suspension of SARS Deputy Commissioner, Ivan Pillay, but he did say:

18 months ago when I left office, I took an oath of office that I’m not going to get involved in issues of staff… SARS is a very highly technical and information technology driven organization. You have to know what you’re doing from a technology point of view. You have to know what you’re doing from people management point of view. It employs about 15 000 people.

Oupa Magashula, former SARS commissioner

I think the present Commissioner is well qualified to be able to be left alone to do his job…He’s been given a mandate by the President, let him do it in peace… We should leave the present Commissioner to conduct all the investigations he needs to do and he should be left to pronounce because [SARS] is a very important institution in our country.

Oupa Magashula, former SARS commissioner

Magashula expressed that there were no rogue units that he knew about during his tenure as commissioner of SARS and thanked John Robbie for the "blast from the past".

Listen below to the full interview with Oupa Magashula, who spoke to John Robbie, about his transition after leaving office as SARS commissioner and his current venture in low-cost technology.

Find out more on Ivan Pillay's suspension here.

Read here for more on Oupa Magashula's resignation.

Listen here for audio on the SARS 'infighting'.

John Robbie hosts the breakfast show on 702, every weekday from 06:00 to 09:00.

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