While celebrating recent arrests, we realise we will need more hands on deck in the fight against corruption
The recent arrests of Brian Molefe, Anoj Singh and others implicated in fraud and corruption with state funds at Transnet, are certainly to be celebrated. Their names made headlines on many occasions, thanks in part to OUTA’s hard work of exposing the roles they played in state capture. In addition to laying criminal charges against them in 2017, we provided the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) with details about their corrupt activities in order for them to compile the charges brought against them in the Transnet case.
Once again, our hopes are raised, as they will be every time someone who has stolen from the public purse is rounded up and held accountable – even if the process takes longer than we would have liked.
While we celebrate these arrests (with more to follow from what we hear), the team at OUTA doesn’t miss a beat, continuously chipping away at corruption and tax abuse. With input from regular whistle-blower engagements, we are continuously uncovering a plethora of potential projects and cases. But sadly very few of this will find their way through our project approval process, as there simply aren’t enough hands, not to mention funds, to investigate every case.
Sadly, hundreds of incidents of corruption are taking place in South Africa on a very regular basis – this happens not only at national level, but also provincial and local government level. Each case involves millions of Rands of state funds. From our experiences with whistle-blowers, it seems as if almost all large expenditures involve a process of inserting middlemen and facilitators who then direct large portions of public spending into the accounts of connected friends and family.
Fighting corruption from a civil action position like OUTA’s, is a far bigger task than one can imagine. From engaging with whistle-blowers, to investigation of the facts and then the hard yards of compiling cases, exposure and accountability. It takes significant resources.
Unfortunately, our nations resources (that should be used to positively impact the lives of ordinary South Africans) will continue to be depleted until we find significant, courageous leadership that will change the narrative and drive a new moral compass, with impeccable oversight and criminal justice mechanisms in place.
The saddest part of our job at OUTA is having to turn down many strong cases in which we would have made a difference by curbing malfeasance or the abuse of power – if only we had the capacity. Unfortunately, due to our resource constraints, we just can’t get to everything that requires our attention.
This is the stuff that keeps me awake at night – knowing that the corrupt use of our precious tax resources is taking place, with hard evidence being available for collection and processing. But we don’t have the time, expertise and resources to do so.
This is extremely frustrating. The OUTA team is certainly being tested in our abilities of learning to say no and prioritising, as we free up resources for more urgent matters.
The sad truth is that we can’t expand our team without more donations.
Following recent talks and general society engagements, I am astounded at the lack of understanding of how civil activist organisations like ours are funded. But maybe that’s our fault for not putting it out there more often, that OUTA , as with most civil action organisations, is funded by the general public and businesses.
Many believe us to be a bunch of passionate volunteers who do this work for free. Passionate yes, but doing this work without an income does not work, nor is it fair on anyone. Neither is it sustainable as in our case, some corruption projects take years to complete and require knowledge continuity and expertise to see them through to the end. Doing this work properly requires the right people for each role employed and at market related salaries.
Recently, the President announced the appointment of the National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council, which has been promised and spoken about for the past two years. Despite this being so late, the advisory council is now in place and they have an enormous amount of work to do.
Within the six-pillars featured in the strategy, Pillars 1 and 4 attract our attention at OUTA the most and should – if effectively implemented – be most impactful in the fight against corruption.
- Pillar 1: Promote and encourage active citizenry, whistleblowing, integrity and transparency in all spheres of society.
- Pillar 4: Improve the integrity, transparency and credibility of the public procurement system.
OUTA will be promoting and advocating for rapid advancement of these initiatives as the council’s advisory work within the strategy gets underway.
Speaking of corruption: it is time we acknowledge that it takes two to tango, and the symbiotic corrupt relationship between business and government is alive and flourishing in South Africa. Read more about that here.
We also update you on recent developments on the driving license debacle, following an independent forensic investigation that uncovered what motorists were always aware of: corruption, maladministration, and poor service delivery within the Gauteng online license booking system. Read more here.
Be sure to read OUTA project manager Brendan Slade’s insightful piece on one of the biggest frustrations we have as civil society: getting information from
the state. The Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA for short) is a good law, but often abused and not allowed to be effective in enabling public information to flow. Read more here.
And do you know what you are drinking? Read more here about this week’s countrywide water testing by WaterCAN, a proud OUTA initiative.
In closing, I once again want to thank you and express our sincerest gratitude for contributing to the funding of OUTA’s resources. You are the active citizens so dear to our purpose and YOU make our work possible. If we only we were able to get one or two of each of your friends to also donate to us, we would be able to do so much more. Please reach out to your circle of friends, family and colleagues on our behalf, and convince them to sign up at www.outa.co.za/JoinNow. They can choose the amount they want to donate – we are not prescriptive. Also remember that OUTA is now registered to provide you with a section 18 A certificate, meaning that you can claim back a part of your donation from tax.
Until next time, may the successes you strive for be realised, whilst knowing that we at OUTA will keep fighting the good fight on your behalf.