Durban – The KwaZulu-Natal branch of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) said on Tuesday that it would continue to vex the corrupt in order to expose government mismanagement and the theft of taxpayers’ money.
“We will continue to get up people’s noses -- not in a destructive manner -- in order to continue to expose and challenge tax maladministration and corruption,” said OUTA KZN provincial manager Tim Tyrrell.
Tyrrell, along with colleagues Jonathan Erasmus and Zodumo Sishi, was hosting a meet and greet with journalists at the Point Yacht Club in Durban.
The KZN OUTA branch is the latest to open in the country as the non-profit organisation (NPO) looks to expand into regions to focus on accountability within local government.
“Our mission is to hold government to account,” said Tyrrell, stressing that OUTA was and would remain apolitical.
Holding government to account would be done through a process of research and investigation, engaging with authorities, exposing those authorities if necessary, mobilisation and litigation if needed, said Tyrrell.
He said one of OUTA KZN’s priorities was to ensure eThekwini Municipality’s criminally charged mayor, Zandile Gumede, was removed from office.
The provincial African National Congress (ANC) placed Gumede on 30 days leave after she was charged with fraud, corruption and money laundering last month. The charges relate to a R208 million Durban Solid Waste tender from 2016.
The mayor is out on R50 000 bail. She and her alleged accomplices will appear at the Durban Commercial Crimes Court again in August.
“Gumede is primarily a public servant. Her mandate is to lead the city of Durban, but she has dismally failed,” said Tyrrell.
He said the prima facie evidence of wrongdoing throughout her term was “manifest”.
Hundreds of Gumede’s supporters have been bused into the city centre for two consecutive weeks to protest outside the ANC’s provincial headquarters, demanding she be reinstated as mayor.
During last week’s protest, it was revealed that the buses used were municipal ones that had been diverted from their regular routes in order to transport Gumede’s supporters.
“Where are the controls at the municipality that look after the assets that you pay for through your rates?” asked Tyrrell.
An investigation into the misuse of the buses was “very much” part of OUTA’s eThekwini portfolio, he said.
Erasmus said they had it on “extremely good authority” that the buses had not been booked or paid for.
“We will be making an appointment to see [the] council in order to force them to investigate it further. The buses were essentially commandeered on the Tuesday morning that the protest took place,” he said.