Sometimes you just have to laugh at the bold ineptitude of certain South African state enterprises. The South African Revenue Service, which is usually one of the most well-run state enterprises in the country, was left with plenty of egg on its face when the support of Flash came to an end. SARS had failed to update its website, which relied heavily on Flash, to be ready for the change in how web browsers work. And it’s not as if it wasn’t aware of this, as it had over two years to prepare.
Perhaps this sort of failure to be proactive is something we should expect from many government organisations, but nothing can prepare us for what SARS intended to do to fix the problem. SARS tweeted about how it had built its own Flash-supported web browser to allow people to still submit all their relevant tax information.
That’s right, rather than spend effort on simply updating its website to support modern technologies, SARS created a new web browser to keep that old plug-in alive. Never mind the fact that web browsers are extremely difficult to create, given all the different security protocols that are required, so I’m not sure exactly how good this web browser will be even if its sole purpose is to be used for SARS forms. (Also, as has been pointed out after this article was published, this new browser doesn’t even work on Mac or Linux!)
I guess considering that tax information is required for submission at the end of February and the new tax return season opens up shortly thereafter, SARS felt like a rushed web browser was the only option available. A pity that foresight couldn’t have been added a few years ago.
People are already having difficulty moving away from Internet Explorer, so giving them yet another browser to use to submit their tax information jut seems like a rather bizarre idea. Perhaps our government believes it has what it takes to be a large tech company too. With plans for the SABC to build its own streaming service and now SARS creating a browser of its own, they certainly want to play with the big boys.
Just a pity then that SA institutions have already proven that they have no clue what they are doing from a technology perspective.
Last Updated: January 26, 2021