The year is barely a month old, and 2022 has seen some big events that have ensured we at OUTA hit the ground running in the first few weeks.
With the first part of the State Capture report officially presented, and part two imminent, a significant flurry of activity has ensued. In mid-January, while still working our way through the Zondo Commission’s Report, the next big news broke: the High Court found in OUTA’s favour in the case on the constitutionality of AARTO and the AARTO Amendment Act. The court declared both Acts unlawful and invalid, which effectively means government was send back to the drawing board.
In OUTA’s view, both the Zondo report and the AARTO judgement are important milestones in civil society’s ongoing fight for improved governance in South Africa. Six years ago, many people thought nothing could be done to hold government accountable for state capture, and the work of Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo and his commission of inquiry, was greeted with skepticism and complaints about the high costs.
Yet, here we are, with a comprehensive first report consisting of more than 800 pages, backed by thousands and thousands of pages of transcripts of testimonies. After reviewing the first part of the State Capture Report and assessing what is to come, we genuinely believe the wait and the cost were worth it. Now law enforcement entities have no more excuses when it comes to prosecuting those who hijacked our country for their own gains. We believe the report will go a long way in building watertight cases against state capture offenders and are calling for heightened energy from the NPA and a revived Independent Directorate, following Hermione Cronje’s recent resignation.
The revelations in the report also threw the cat amongst the pigeons in the governing party, creating immense pressure for them to clean house – both in government and within party ranks. The fact that it happened at the start of the year of the ANC’s elective conference, where a new party leader will be chosen, will certainly ensure an interesting year.
With all these dynamics unfolding, we at OUTA believe that 2022 is the year for civil activists to up the ante in the fight against corruption. The OUTA management is unpacking its annual strategic review, ensuring that we keep honing our methodology and introduce new initiatives that heightens our pressure on government to manage the state’s affairs (as well as those of local government) in the best interests of the people.
Before we took the AARTO matter to court, we tried to engage with the authorities to discuss and resolve the challenges facing AARTO. But they kept their heads in the sand, believing that this was their domain and not ours to interfere. Thankfully, we have a judiciary that we can rely on to halt bad policymaking in its tracks. OUTA supports practical laws and real efforts to reduce the carnage on our roads, but AARTO is not the panacea that government thinks it is. In fact, the AARTO Act in its current form is a mess, and a recipe for increased corruption and lawlessness, while also interfering with the administration and income of local authorities. While our strategy paid off and we won the first AARTO battle, the war isn’t over yet. See our story on AARTO here for details on what happens next. We hope that this time government will engage meaningfully with civil society organisations like OUTA to find a real solution for the death and destruction on our roads.
Another worrying action in Government this month, was Minister Gwede Mantashe's decision to remove civil society representative on the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) board, Peter Becker (from the NPO Koeberg Alert), without explanation. OUTA and other civil society organisations will be taking this matter further, as we believe there is another agenda at play. It is worrisome that government officials and ministers still think that they can simply ignore the rules, especially when it comes to long term nuclear energy plans for South Africa.
Recent attacks on whistleblowers Themba Maseko and Johan van Loggerenberg (and others in the past) are indicative of a desperate push-back by the corrupt cabal. Civil society is calling on government to fast-track its efforts to protect whistleblowers, who have been punished for being ethical and patriotic. It simply can’t be right that they are left out in the cold, unable to fend for themselves, unable to secure employment and often facing expensive legal labour battles whilst living in fear for their lives, in exchange for their honesty and bravery.
I want to take the opportunity to thank you and all our supporters for making OUTA’s work possible. If you didn’t know it already, OUTA is now Section 18A registered with SARS, meaning that all donations made to OUTA are fully deductible through your annual income tax submission, limited to a maximum of 10% of your taxable income. We hope this will encourage more people to support our work and even trigger thoughts of increasing your monthly donations to OUTA. If you would like to amend your support, please mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will contact you to do the necessary amendments. Also, for us to supply you with a tax certificate at the end of the financial year, please ensure that all your details are correct. Click here:
From all of us at OUTA, we trust a momentous and prosperous year lies ahead for you and yours.
Wayne and the OUTA team