Responding to the Auditor General’s report on wasteful expenditure and poor performance of national and provincial government, OUTA is disappointed at the growing extent of this problem for South Africa. “This is a very worrying problem for the citizens of this country” says Wayne Duvenage, the Chairperson of OUTA, “as this lack of control and accountability to tax payer’s gives rise to Government’s attempts to seek other inefficient ways of extracting funds from society to fund capital expenditure projects, such as eTolling for freeway upgrades”.
The amount of R30.8bn squandered by Government is 24% up on last years R24.8bn of wasted taxpayer’s funds, and simply put, is the result of ineptitude and lack of accountability by poor civil service leadership. Leading economists indicate that if one adds in the full extent of corruption and maladministration, this number to be closer to R100bn or more.
More worrying is the fact that almost all officials or Ministers identified as part of the problem, are getting away with their misdemeanors. It is sad to hear the Minister of Public Service and Administration, Lindiwe Sisulu saying that Government is now taking steps by coming up with new laws to bring the guilty to book. “What new laws does one require to discipline and dismiss people who don’t do the work they were employed to do,” says Duvenage. “The private sector dismisses management and employees every day for poor performance or corrupt business practices, yet Government finds it difficult to do so”.
This waste of scarce resources – money – is the result of weak leadership and it is time the Government displayed some moral courage and woke up the realities of their responsibilities, failing which, the people will not tolerate this lack of accountability. “We do not feel it is right for the introduction of more inefficient revenue collection mechanisms, such as eTolls, while Government does not protect its citizens from such immoral squandering of our hard earned taxes” says Duvenage. For this reason, we believe citizens have every right to rebuke the authorities plans to introduce a grossly inefficient and flawed eToll system that enriches private companies, by not getting eTags, if and when the eTolling system is introduced.
Furthermore, we call on big business to speak out against this waste of their employee’s and company taxes. The continued lack of loud and robust condemnation by big business in effect condones Government’s behavior. Business should be filing complaints with the Institute for Accountability, the Public Protector, at Nedlac or directly with the authorities and other bodies to bring about a drastic reversal of this situation. By failing to do so, business is falling short of their duties to the citizens of this country. Their silence and lack of strong action against Government is in effect, becoming part of the problem.