From assistant taxi driver to commissioner of revenue


The phenomenal rise of the newly appointed Commissioner of Inland Revenue, Sam Shivute, encompasses an inspiring story for the old and young alike.


He comes in at a time when the Inland Revenue Department is in dire need of an overdue revamp of its tax administration.


Being part of the global village, it is imperative Namibia complies with the various dynamics of taxation. As such, this inevitable and crucial development at the revenue department falls in line with national and international practices, as recommendedby the International Monetary Fund (IMF).


Now that this office has an occupant, it is expected to bring a huge relief to tax payers who have to endure the push and pull that comes with tax matters.


For industry players, this office is expected to administer taxation law and collect revenue for State, which will inevitable contribute to economic growth. The question is, does Shivute have what it takes to shoulder this huge responsibility? Well, his impressive career background all point in one direction.


Suffices to say, Namibia should rest assured ithasa pair of “clean hands” to handle tax matters, which have [for too long] been under severe public and media scrutiny.


“Happy times are here,” says the energetic, intelligent, self-driven Shivute who obviously has an amazing appetite for diligent service and leadership.


“This appointment, which to me is a national assignment [bestowed upon me], is humbling and I am ready to serve and deliver on the mandate,” he adds.


Rising to this envious position did not come on a silver platter. Related challenges are, however, attributable to the tough personalityrequired of a tax man, which he evidently has.


After completing his matric with exemptions at Iipumbu Senior Secondary School in 1994, Shituve’s hope to pursue tertiary education hit a snag due to financial problems.


Today, his impressive CV speaks a different language.He is a graduate of LLB (honours) and B Juris degrees [both] from the University of Namibia (Unam).


Additionally, he holds a Bachelor of Technology degree in Policing from South Africa’s Tshwane University of Technology, as well as a national diploma in Police Science from the Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN). Shivute is also a graduate of Management Development Programme; and Project Management both from the University of Stellenbosch Business School.


In 2012, he successfully completed an International Executive Development Programme, facilitated by the London Business School (UK), India Institute of Management Bangalore (India) and the Wits Business School (South Africa).


Currently he is pursuing International Finance and Banking Laws (LLM) from the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, the Commissioner has acquired all his degrees while holding a full-time job and he never had a privilege of getting a bursary or a scholarship.


“It does not matter where one starts in life. What matters is where you what to be in life,” he highlights, adding, “I believe continuous self improvement, life lessons and positive-mindedness [at all times] are very important in life. Oneshould alwaysassess their progress by asking themselves, ‘What am I doing to get where I want to be?”


The once upon a time taxi driver assistant who plied the Oshakati and Ondangwa roads after his matric to earn a living is a testament to ‘one is what they think of themselves’.


Given his circumstances at the time, the best he could have become was either a seasoned taxi driver or owner of a fleet of taxis.


But the experience of convincing customers to board his mini buses then, accounting for every cent received and every cent spent, prepared him for a bigger world of responsibilities indeed. Now he is in charge of bigger accounts, speaking the right language to convince citizens to pay their taxes while ensuring the State coffers are always healthy, Shivute could not be better off.


After a brief stint in the taxi industry, he would come across an opportunity atthe Namibian Police in May 1995 (Nampol) to gain training as a student constable, which he delightfully grabbed. He would be posted to the Wanaheda Police Station after graduation where he started performing official police duties.


After a year, his leadership skills and agility would be tested when he was transferred to the Wanaheda Detective Unit as an investigator. This move marked the beginning for bigger and tougher assignments, all in he excelled.


As an investigator and later as a qualified detective, he worked in risky environments while serving under departments, such as the Theft of Vehicle Unit, Serious Crime Unit, Crime Information Unit and Commercial Crime Unit.


“I diligently and passionately served Nampol for eight years. Whilst serving the Namibian public in the Namibian Police, I have on a number of occasions put my life on line not only to maintain law and order, but also to preserve the internal security of our country,” recalls the patriotic citizen.


For all his efforts in this regard, he was honoured with a service medal marked “Pol. 0011”on 26 November 2002 by the Founding Father Dr Sam Nujoma.


But two years before his accolade, Shivute had made it through a tightly contested test that saw heand six other applicants (out of 11000 active serving police officers) to serve the United National Transition Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) during an uprising in that part of the world.


While at it, he did not disappoint.He started off as a security officer at Gleno Prison in Elmera District. After a month, he was transferred to the headquarters in Diliatthe Office of Professional Standards where he ended up becomingthe deputy chief. Shivute served UNTAET for a period of 2 years.


At his return home in May 2002, he only lasted seven month at Nampol after which he moved to the Bank of Namibia (BoN) as the protection services division manager.


In between his roles, he was promoted to be the deputy director – Currency and Banking Division as well as the Director of the Banking Services Department. In this position he was responsible for all banking services to the Government and Commercial Bank, Currency Management and Security function. He held the latter position until his recent secondment to serve as Commissioner: Inland Revenue Department.


Given Shivute says he is passionate about leadership, and he is confident he will definitely rise to the occasion and drive the necessary change. He, however, cautions the public not to expect miracles but quips that he and his team will do all they can to ensure they deliver.


“We strive and are determined to see our tax administration system modernised to deliver excellent services to our clients.I am wired to take on the challenge,” he assures the public, then reiteratesthe value of a harmonised revenue collection system.


This system, he says, makes it possible for the State to deliver various functionaries be it in health, education, security or in developmental initiatives. Without it, Namibia’s dreams, including those of the Vision 2030, would remain just that; dreams.


“We have to pay our taxes, otherwise, there will be consequences, whilst implementing the taxation laws of Namibia, the Inland Revenue Department will be guided by the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia, the taxation laws and the canons of a good taxation system. The tax laws will be implemented without fear or favour”, he warns in conclusion.PF