Former South African Revenue Service Commissioner Pravin Gordhan describes the internal organizational changes that helped the service consistently meet or exceed its revenue targets during his tenure. Appointed commissioner soon after the service obtained autonomy from South Africa’s civil service regulations, Gordhan talks about how he led a campaign of organizational transformation known as siyakha (“we are building” in Zulu), which reorganized tasks, shifted people within the organization, and led to large-scale racial transformation. The policy depended on aggressive outreach efforts both within the organization and to the public at large. By taking office staff on public campaigns during tax-filing season, Gordhan built public willingness to comply while motivating his employees.
At the time of this interview, Pravin Gordhan was minister of finance for South Africa. He was the commissioner of the South African Revenue Service from 1999 to 2009. Before his career in government, Gordhan played a prominent role in the South African liberation movement; in the 1980s, he was secretary of Operation Vula, the African National Congress underground organization.