A TEETERING COUNTRY REQUIRES FOCUS AND COOL-HEADED CITIZENRY FOR CHANGE
The current political ructions, coalition challenges and declining public sector service delivery in South Africa are driving epic proportions of bewilderment and frustration. Just when we think things can’t be any more preposterous, our President decides to further remove politicians from the pain and suffering of their citizens by giving them extra perks in the form of free water and electricity and bigger car allowances. Thankfully he backtracked and announced that he would be withdrawing the handbook and going back to the drawing board after significant pressure from civil society and the public. However, we continue to question why the President felt he had the right to frivolously spend tax money on perks for ministers. The natural reaction is to despairingly throw our hands in the air, but what is actually called for is greater resilience, tenacity, focus and cool-headed active citizenry.
When Jacob Zuma exited the Union Buildings, we firmly believed that OUTA’s role would change somewhat. Service delivery and maladministration were always going to be growing focus areas for OUTA, but we were confident that corruption and the abuse of power was going to subside somewhat. How wrong we were, as both areas continue to unabatedly plague South Africa.
Almost four years into our 6th Government administration, the first under Ramaphosa, the state we find ourselves in has become incomprehensible. And the common denominator across the multitude of fallout factors? A ruling party that is far removed from the realities of what must happen to build a cohesive and high performing nation.
Amidst this madness, however, there is a growing coordination and collaboration of many civil activist organisations intent on driving a myriad of issues that culminates in significant pressure on Government to serve the public more effectively. And make no mistake, as much as Government gives the impression that this pressure has no impact on them, it does, and it occupies a lot of their time and concerns. Especially the progressive thinking administrators within state institutions who, like you and I, are not fooled by their political masters.
The issue of electoral reform is one project being driven through a collaborative civil society approach and is one that has its challenges, most importantly a lack of public understanding and a stubborn parliament. But it is an important issue for South Africa’s future and this is why a civil society coordinate approach is important on this matter. Here’s a short video by Defend Our Democracy that spells out the current status and concerns on this issue.
While OUTA is an apolitical organisation, we certainly operate in the space of political conduct, which in turn drives our thinking and initiatives to bring about change faster and better. Electoral reform is one of those issues that will go a long way to fixing SA, but there is no silver bullet.
As that effort unfolds, we explore other projects, such as our collaboration with several organisations to improve voter turnout at the 2024 elections. Contrary to what many believe, research shows that the higher the electoral participation, the lower the percentage of votes that accrue to the problematic, populist, political parties. (You know who they are.) So, let’s start spreading the word that voting in 2024 is more important than ever before.
To be effective and fix our country, civil activism requires more collaboration between like-minded entities. And that is exactly what is happening of late as OUTA drives effective civil intervention to tackle our reduced reliance on political leadership. Despite an extremely tight budget, we are constantly expanding our efforts in this regard, while remaining focussed on our successful work in the accountability and corruption fighting space.
Further down in this newsletter we unpack the arrest and court appearance of former minister Mosebenzi Zwane and former Transnet (and Eskom) CEO Brian Molefe and CFO Anoj Singh in a high-profile state capture court case, something which OUTA helped expose. While this has, without a doubt, given much needed hope to all those fighting state capture, we are not blind to the fact that loadshedding, water shedding, health-sector challenges and a general decline in service delivery, are dampening most South Africans’ hope.
Local government failures are no longer confined to smaller outlying towns and cities, and fast becoming ever prevalent in major metros such as eThekwini and even Johannesburg, not too long ago known as the economic hub of the country and even Africa. In the coming months, OUTA will be exposing the underlying and systemic issues of local government’s demise, as exposed by our research and analysis, with a view to driving the necessary narratives for change in this space.
In November, OUTA is launching a series of quarterly business breakfasts leading up to the 2024 elections. Here we will be unpacking what business and civil society needs to explore, if we are going to drive the change we want to see in 2024. The panel at our first breakfast will consist of BLSA’s Busisiwe Mavuso, Lukhona Mnguni (from the Rivonia Circle) and myself, with Khaya Sithole as facilitator. We’d like to engage with businesses based in Gauteng, wanting to be involved in fixing the country. If that sounds like you, please join us! , It’s happening on Wednesday the 2nd of November 2022 and you can book your seat here.
Changes won’t happen on its own. It happens when people’s energy is focussed and driven with purpose and passion. You and I need to step up and be the change we so desperately need in this country. Thanks again to all our supporters for making OUTA’s work possible.
Again, may we ask that you tell your friends about us by forwarding this newsletter? And remember to remind them that contributions to OUTA are tax deductible.
Until next time, stay safe.
Wayne and team
PS: We are still eagerly awaiting Government’s long overdue decision on e-tolls as well as the possible extension of driving licence cards. We will keep you informed on any developments in this space.