UPHOLDING VIGILANCE, TENACITY, AND RESILIENCE AS PILLARS OF OUTA'S CULTURE
Dear OUTA Supporters
As we continue our relentless pursuit to combat corruption, the challenges may seem overwhelming. But our team firmly believes that inaction is not an option for our society. Together we can achieve so much more, and there are various approaches we can adopt to address this issue of corruption.
Many - including myself at times – have questioned why we even persist in our efforts, since it appears that our impact on stemming public sector corruption and inefficiency is limited. The answer lies in the profound effect our work has in the areas and issues that we do tackle. Even in the odd case where we may not succeed in court, like our quest to have the AARTO scheme declared unconstitutional, the rewards of our efforts are immense.
Speaking of the AARTO issue: it's crucial to understand that our concern and challenge is not with the Department of Transport's (DoT) intention to introduce a national driver's license points demerit system for penalizing road users who break the rules. Our contention lies in the fact that successful implementation of the AARTO Scheme requires much more than just legislation. Despite the recent judgment in the DoT’s favour, our government must realize that complex schemes demand more than laws and regulations. The design of the AARTO scheme, aiming to manage traffic violations and fine collection at a national level, will face significant resistance from municipalities and metros across the country, who will exercise their rights to retain this competence (and income) within their administration system, as opposed to hand this over to the Road Traffic Infringement Authority (RTIA). This aspect and issues of OUTA’s unconstitutionality challenge was largely overlooked by the courts and the authorities, and is a matter that will likely return to haunt them in due course.
Just as we predicted the shortcomings and failure of the e-toll scheme, so too we predict that the AARTO scheme will face administrative inefficiencies and challenges from multiple avenues, rendering it unworkable. While we acknowledge the potential value of a license point demerit scheme in addressing road fatalities to some degree, the current structure and design of AARTO will hinder its effectiveness. Read more about the Constitutional Court’s ruling here.
Moving on, through our Joburg Community Action Network (JoburgCAN) initiative, we are currently challenging the excessively high property valuations imposed by the City of Joburg. This overvaluation led to significantly higher municipal rates and taxes for many residents and businesses, many of whom are already battling to make ends meet. Our Community Action Network (CAN) strategy also stretches into our WaterCAN initiative – in simple terms, we empower citizens to help keep an eye on the quality of water countrywide, which in turn empowers communities to pressure local government administrators for improved service delivery. This is another excellent way to hold local government to account. Read here about WaterCAN’s criminal complaints against the City of Johannesburg and two of its officials for failing to do their duties.
At OUTA we fight for a better country for all South Africans. In October 2022 we exposed serious procurement irregularities within the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). This led to certain companies securing tenders to manage student allowances and payments. We warned government that these companies are not registered financial service providers and therefore not the best suited to deliver these services, especially since they are charging significantly higher service fees. Unfortunately our concerns were ignored, possibly due to underlying nefarious activities within the departments, leading to students countrywide being extremely upset about late or non-payments of their fees. Our investigation into this matter continues, and we have also shared our information with student leaders and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU). We will keep you posted.
Recently, a disturbing incident involving Deputy President Paul Mashatile's VIP Protection unit once again highlighted a culture of abuse of power and arrogance within the government. This hubristic behaviour is a matter of grave concern, as it permeates all levels of the public service - from national to local government level. Many public service officials fail to understand that they work for the people of South Africa and not for politicians. There is an urgent need for a citizen-centric and service-oriented mindset throughout the public service sector, and we need to keep reminding government of this. Apart from keeping up the pressure on officials failing to do their jobs wherever and however we can, the OUTA team also submitted comment on the Public Service Commission Bill – read more here.
Spring is around the corner, and with that we are also getting closer to 2024 and the very important national and provincial elections. We want to assure our supporters that the dedicated OUTA team will keep on doing what we can and what our limited budget allows in the fight for our democracy and a more efficient and prosperous nation.
Thank you once again to our supporters for your unwavering support and commitment to OUTA's mission. Please also note that our resources are extremely tight, and we respectfully ask that you consider a slight increase to your monthly donation. Please also spread the word to colleagues, friends, and family that we are entirely reliant on public funding. The economic pressures and inflation remains a constant tide that is sapping our energy, yet there is so much that we still need to do for our country.
But let us not lose hope – together we can achieve a lot, and our team will continue to be vigilant, tenacious, and resilient in the pursuit of a better society.