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Outa warns of tax revolt against Zuma

Dec 11 2015 10:40

Cape Town - Reacting to President Jacob Zuma's firing of Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) said Zuma's "brazen behaviour" has sparked a call for broader civil action.

The civil rights body said the winds of discontent among the South African tax-paying public are strong enough to "fan a fiery backlash that the ruling party will struggle to contain".

"This country and its people can no longer afford to tolerate a situation where blatant abuse of power and politically-connected enrichment continues without consequence," said Outa. "It is for this reason that civil society organisations such as Outa and others have the potential to hold our governing authorities to account."

Outa said that in its opinion, Nene's removal is "yet another slap in the public’s face by Zuma, who has ousted another obstacle to his government’s runaway spending, growing debt and questionable decisions".

Nene gave taxpayers the rational and probing approach they expect of their finance minister, said Outa. "Clearly, Jacob Zuma disagrees and the consequences of his brazen decision to remove Nene will now have a dire impact on the South African economy and its people."

Outa menioned the example of Gauteng's e-toll scheme, which led to a revolt "by 91% of the Gauteng freeway users who have given the e-toll scheme the finger". According to Outa, e-tolls are being kept alive by a handful of corporates and logistic organisations, many of whom are de-tagging and seeking advice and protection under Outa's e-Toll Defence Umbrella.

READ: Anti e-toll group vows to support members in court

Outa said the level of effective civil resistance against e-tolls has been "staggering". The anti-tolls body said it has recently received numerous calls to spearhead a similar public resistance campaign into other areas of what it terms "irrational governance".

Outa chairperson Wayne Duvenage said: "We are obviously taking note of the situation and cautiously assessing all options under the circumstances. A tax revolt is a worrying situation for any nation to find itself in; however, a careful and collaborative approach with organised business and civil society does have the potential to elicit impactful change.”

Turning to economic matters, the civil rights body said the country's credit situation is already perilously close to junk status. Zuma's move "could very well be the shove that sends us over the brink". Economists have widely criticised Nene's removal, saying his sudden replacement is one of the worst events for an economy that has very little cushioning.

READ: Nene axing huge blow for already frail economy

Nomura International emerging markets economist Peter Attard Montalto said he believed Nene was sacked for politically-motivated reasons. Zuma's move is a serious blow to foreign direct investment and investors, said Motalto. "We view this prioritisation of political issues over reforms as the reason that SA is firmly on the path to junk status."

READ: Nene's shock removal pure political play - economists

Outa pointed out that unlike Greece, South Africa enters the possibility of an economic meltdown not because of the actions of its people or any irresponsible conduct by the country's financial institutions, but because of the "relentless political abuse of power and the systemic plundering and squandering of taxpayer money".

Said Duvenage “Certain spheres and issues can only be influenced by collective action and without the power of an effective civil society, all that remains is politics - and politics has failed us today."


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