Former ANC MP Makhosi Khoza believes voters have lost faith in politics.
This same disillusionment on her own part has prompted her to attempt to mobilise civil society to fight corruption through her involvement in antigraft lobby group, Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa).
Speaking at the announcement of the group’s executive restructuring, which sees Khoza taking up the position as Outa executive director, she announced that Outa has resolved to take its fight against corruption to local government.
The erstwhile ANC MP lamented the decline in voter turnout, saying politicians had let society down.
“Recently, at Wits University, the EFF took about 14 out of 15 seats of the SRC, but the voter turnout was only 8%,” she said. “That means 92% of the people have decided to forgo their right to vote. But to me, it also says something. It says citizens no longer have enough faith in politicians.”
Khoza pointed out that the ANC’s 2014 election victory was secured by less than 50% of South Africa’s 26 million registered voters. “To me, it means there is a disconnect. We need to strengthen civil society.”
Shortly after a dramatic exit from parliament and the ANC last year, Khoza announced she would be the head of a new political party. Her stint at African Democratic Change (ADC) went pear-shaped when it was almost immediately split by factions, with members demanding her resignation.
Addressing journalists at Outa’s announcement, Khoza said that despite local government having the closest proximity to South Africans it was, tragically, the most neglected.
“Objectively and rationally, it should be a sphere where our country invests its best brains, talent, and positive energy.
“It is gratifying, therefore, to know that [Outa] has taken a decision to focus on this sphere of governance.”
As executive director, Khoza is set to lead the lobby group into its new venture, shifting its focus to holding local government entities accountable.
While Outa’s main battles have involved extensive court battles over e-tolls in Gauteng, and other major tax abuse concerns, it has now embarked on a complete restructuring, including adding new nonexecutive directors, that will see it going after municipalities across the country.
Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage said the organisation has already begun work at the Govan Mbeki Municipality in Mpumalanga, and hopes to have spread to 60 municipalities over the next 18 months.
“The modus operandi is very similar in each one of them, requiring transparency, ensuring that the integrated development plans are followed through and budgets are being met, tenders are being processed properly, and to have the councillors – and city managers – do their jobs.
“We know that’s not the case throughout the country, so we have a lot of work cut out for us.”
The group will be recruiting more than 100 staff members over the next few months.
“The lack of accountability in local municipalities throughout the country has led to a substantive decline in service delivery over the years, along with the collapse in the fiduciary duties and the functions of many municipal departments,” Duvenage said.
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