What a year this month was
Over the past few weeks we have been living on a knife edge of political uncertainty and more of the same is ahead.
It is astounding to witness how the country has become trapped in uncertainty, while the ruling party’s internal factionalism and political mudslinging unfolds.
The stability of our country has been hijacked by the floundering and incompetence of those in authority, who focus on their party’s leadership mess rather than running the country. This is not good for citizen and business confidence. The rumours of President Ramaphosa’s possible resignation and/or impeachment, with speculative debates in boardrooms and the media on succession scenarios, has sent markets into a tailspin, placed investment decisions on hold and caused more currency instability and financial challenges for the country. The ramped-up stages of loadshedding and speculation of sabotage at Eskom, further heighten our concerns.
Something has to change and I believe that 2023 will be the year of greater corporate active citizenry that will be both constructive, yet pressurised against Government for meaningful action.
The DD Mabuza matter
The Constitution sets out that the deputy president is first in line to replace a president who exits during office. In South Africa, with Deputy President David Mabuza, this option to many is too horrendous to contemplate. This is so, largely because there is little to zero evidence of Mr Mabuza showing any leadership qualities and statesmanship during his time as the Deputy President, aside from his alleged implicated in land-claim scams in Mpumalanga. In short, Deputy President Mabuza cannot be trusted to act in the best interest of our country.
Our Accountability team has spent some months assessing and collating existing – and publicly known – evidence against Mabuza, following which we referred a criminal complaint against him to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in early December. Read more about our complaint here and here.
Mabuza’s alleged involvement in this scheme has received much attention since retired judge William Heath’s report on the matter in 2015, but criminal cases opened with the police around this matter have disappeared. Author Rehana Rossouw covered the matter extensively in her book Predator Politics: Mabuza, Fred Daniel and the Great Land Scam (you can read an extract from the book here).
With all the glaring evidence against Mr Mabuza and no formal complaints being investigated by the criminal justice system, OUTA simply had to get involved in acting against the matters which Mr Mabuza has been implicated in. We cannot sit by and watch politicians who are found wanting, to continue without being held to account for their destructive actions. A more effective electoral system would make Parliament more accountable to the people of South Africa, leading to more effective accountability of all in positions of political power, including the President and Deputy President. For more on OUTA’s campaign for a reformed electoral system, see here.
OUTA’s social innovation projects take off
During 2022, OUTA’s social innovation initiatives started taking off. This small team explores new ways to empower citizens and communities to become more active in driving improvements in service delivery and governance, including digital tools for collaboration.
Our “LINK” App was launched a year ago - which enables residents within signed-up municipalities to register service delivery and infrastructure problems directly to the municipality directly from their mobile devices - has undergone extensive testing and upgrading in the live environment with a few municipalities. With four municipalities now using the LINK App, (Kouga, Swellendam and Dr Beyers Naude local municipalities and the City of Cape Town), we have many new municipalities lining up to introduce this technology into their operational teams in 2023.
Our Community Action Network (CAN) platform provides a digital tool for community associations to coordinate their membership drives and financial management, whilst enabling greater engagement with local government authorities and networking with other associations. Also launched a year ago, CAN now has 12 community organisations on board with more to follow in 2023, with the testing and efficiency of the platform being addressed in 2022.
During 2022, we launched a focussed community drive to ensure better information gathering and action related to water quality in SA. This initiative, known as “WaterCAN” makes use of a “citizen science” approach, which encourages and enables ordinary people to participate in water testing (rivers and drinking water) and data gathering, which then gets used to place pressure on Government authorities to manage water resources in a more responsible and sustainable manner. On World Water Day in September, WaterCAN led more than 100 citizen scientists in testing water around the country in our #WhatAmIDrinking campaign, and compiled a report on the results. In December, WaterCAN manager Dr Ferrial Adam won the Mail & Guardian Greening the Future awards in the category of safeguarding the quality of water.
A quick wrap of 2022
Amidst all the unnecessary pressure we are under as a nation, it’s easy to overlook the positive developments that have unfolded during 2022. More politicians and SOE executives have been arrested and charged this year than any other year since Jacob Zuma vacated office in 2018, with the likes of Mosebenzi Zwane, Anoj Singh, Brian Molefe, Matshela Koko and two of the Gupta brothers (albeit in Dubai), being directly linked to complaints we have lodged with the police since 2017.
The Special Investigating Unit has frozen assets worth billions of rand of those implicated in corruption and the international company ABB agreed in a settlement with the NPA to pay reparations of R2.5 billion to South Africa for its involvement in state capture.
During 2022 we filed a court challenge to halt the decision to grant Karpowership 20-year licences to generate “emergency” gas-to-electricity solutions at three South African harbours, at a cost of over R400 billion at today’s LPG prices. Our challenge continues in 2023 to stop this senseless and overpriced decision. Read more about the Karpowership project here.
This was also the year that OUTA raised a constitutional challenge to halt the extended implementation of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (AARTO) and the AARTO Amendment Act. The Constitutional Court ruling on this is expected next year. If allowed to proceed in the format planned by the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA), AARTO would be another administrative nightmare and failure, similar to the e-toll debacle. Read more about our work on the AARTO project here.
This year was busier and more challenging for OUTA than ever before in our 10-year history, but it was the year that sanity prevailed on the e-toll saga, with government finally applying the funding mechanisms we suggested a decade ago.
Whatever the political dynamics that unfold, while the wheels of justice are turning slower than we like, we assure OUTA’s supporters that we will continue our work with vigour throughout 2023 and beyond.
Once again, we would like to thank our supporters for staying on board and being the source of our energy and resources to fight against the abuse of our taxes and the poorly conceived policies and systems that encourage mismanagement of our beloved country.
If you like our work, please tell your friends and colleagues about us. And remember that donors are entitled to deduct their donations to OUTA, in accordance with Section 18A of the Income Tax Act.
We wish you and your loved ones a safe and restful festive season, with renewed determination to make South Africa a better country in the year ahead.