As we see 2021 draw to a close, we instinctively want to reflect on the past year, assessing and judging the personal value we generated from it. I guess many will agree that this was a year they would prefer to forget on account of the ongoing drain of a slumbering economy, empty political promises, and the worst turnout in nearly three decades at the local election polls. It was a year of virtually zero accountability, whether it be for the mall looters and arsonists, or state capture criminals. Also, another year of Covid-19 waves, varying lockdown levels and travel bans that push our economy deeper into despair.
The year 2021 was certainly one that tested our resolve. And yet we said the same of last year and the year before that. Will 2022 be any different?
Of course, 2022 will be a different year. Each one is if you want to look at life in annual tranches. By the same token, every week and day is different. The question is how different will it be, and to what extent? Better or worse, and then, by how much?
At OUTA, we reflect on each year from the perspective of matters that we were able to control. By understanding and accepting that there are things we have no control over or impact on, we don’t allow unnecessary frustrations to affect our psyche and organisational energy.
From that perspective, 2021 was another good year for the organisation and by the same token, the benefit of our work has flowed through to citizens and the country. We started another 20 projects this year and closed off 22, with 37 projects still in progress. For OUTA, it was another year of meaningful progress, some of which was experienced in a just a few of the projects listed below:
A detailed submission on Parliament’s shortcomings, presented to the Zondo Commission in November 2020, culminated in our book Permitted Plundering: How Parliament Failed South Africa, launched this month. It is a must read for all active citizens.
Former SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni’s declaration as a delinquent director was finally wrapped up in May.
We continued questioning Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness as Public Protector. The continuous pressure by OUTA and others forced Parliament to start a probe into this matter in July.
In August, an ill-conceived green paper intended to force all employed citizens to invest 12% of their salaries into a government-controlled pension scheme, was withdrawn almost as soon as it was proposed after OUTA and others objected.
The ongoing drivers licence debacle, particularly in Gauteng, has been met with OUTA’s call for a revision of the expiry period from 5 to 10 years.
OUTA’s constitutional challenge to halt the introduction of the irrational AARTO (point demerit system) has been heard in court and we expect judgement shortly.
Governments irrational desire for new nuclear energy continues to raise its head, and OUTA’s energy team is challenging this issue across several fronts.
Electoral reform is high on our agenda with court challenges and engagements in Parliament. Of course, this is being met with resistance by political parties. We will intensify our campaign in this regard in 2022, as the country prepares for the national elections in 2024.
These are but a few of the areas where OUTA has plied its trade to hold government’s feet to the fire to try and force change. You can look forward to seeing some exciting innovative citizen-based solutions being developed and launched by OUTA in 2022. We can’t wait to share these with you.
There are two big developments of 2021 that will only fully play out in 2022: the culmination of the State Capture Commission, with its report due out in early in 2022, as well as advocate Hermione Cronje’s resignation as head of the NPA’s Investigating Directorate (ID).
We believe the Zondo Commission report will lead to much needed criminal justice action, while advocate Cronje’s replacement at the ID will hopefully trigger new energy and action in the unit. After the past two very sluggish years, the ID and NPA need to seriously start holding perpetrators of state capture to account, as South Africans are tired of the lack of progress in this regard. We want to see people in orange overalls!
One of the most exciting developments for OUTA, was SARS’ approval of OUTA’s Section 18A status as a Public Benefit Organisation. This essentially means that a full tax rebate is claimable in your annual tax submissions (up to a maximum of 10% of your taxable income), for all your donations made to OUTA. (See more info in this newsletter)
To all our supporters, on behalf of the board and team at OUTA, we express our sincerest gratitude. Without your monthly contributions, we won’t exist. South Africa owes you a debt of gratitude. To you and yours, may it be a safe and very healthy festive season.
OUTA - CEO