Chief Executive Officer at OUTA - Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse

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“It’s a mountain and we’ve got to climb it, or we go down the mountain and walk away and switch the lights off.  But this country’s too beautiful and the people are too precious to walk away.”

These are the inspiring words of Wayne Duvenage, at the helm of the OUTA challenge to slow down corruption in South Africa to manageable portions.  

Christél Rosslee-Venter had the privilege of talking to Wayne about the matters of his heart.  These include:

  • How the hell does he stay positive through all the years of fighting corruption in South Africa?
  • Does he ever have time to sleep?
  • Does he really believe change is possible?
  • How does he manage to keep all the business balls in the air?
  • What are the fun & exciting ways that he uses to regroup, refocus & rejuvenate?
  • Does he still have family and friends?
  • If he could be 20 years old again, and he could change anything, what would that be?
  • What are the metaphorical mountains that he still wants to climb within the next 3 to 5 years?
  • Wayne’s views on the possibility of success in South Africa.

Episode Transcript

It’s a mountain, but we’ve got to climb it or we can go down the mountain and walk away.

And switch the lights off. This country’s too beautiful, and the people are just too precious to walk away.

Welcome to another edition of Expedition Business, where we talk to inspiring South African entrepreneurs about the highs and lows of their business journey and how on earth, they manage to keep the flame of business adventure burning. ‘Cause, facing your day with a smile is sometimes the toughest thing you have to do.
My name is Christél Rosslee-Venter, your host and the one privileged enough to be talking to Wayne Duvenage of OUTA.

And yes, I can hear you ask, Wayne is not an entrepreneur. He is the founder of one of South Africa’s most successful civil action organizations. So how does OUTA fit into entrepreneurship? But before we get to the answer, I would like to remind you to please subscribe, like, comment and share this podcast with as many of your friends and family as possible. Without your help,

we cannot continue to share the amazing stories of all our South African entrepreneurs. But back to why we are here today. Wayne was the founding director and chairperson of OUTA in 2012, which set out to pursue civil society’s challenge of government’s irrational, e-Toll decision in Gauteng. Wayne, welcome to Expedition Business.

Wayne: Christél, nice to be with you and the listeners. Thank you for the opportunity to chat.
Christél: We really do appreciate it. And we know you are extremely busy. So thank you very much for your time. Something that I would like to know, in your resignation letter to Avis rent a car on July, 2012, after working there for 23 years, and you’ve been the CEO for the last five years of it, you set your aim to see this case through to the end.

This obviously the whole eToll case. It is now 11 years later, and government keeps on throwing curveballs. How on earth do you stay positive through all of this?

Wayne: Yeah, you know I never set out to be what I feel I am today which is as a civil activist, a corporate man with all the trappings and trimmings of the corporate world in that space.

But what happened was as we went down this journey of challenging and again, I must just articulate this issue, get asked the question a lot, you know, why are you opposed to a user-paced scheme, and you’ve got it wrong on the e-toll thing. People must just understand this, that the more we dug as businesspeople, and I was wearing a business hat then and I was chairing the association of the fleet companies is

is we could see that the scheme was born in since we weren’t against user pays. We accepted this long-distance tolls. We accepted when you get electricity, you must pay for it. That’s not the issue here. And we also accept technology. You know, the use of these electronic tolling systems works very well around the world in many countries, but they also fail for every reason and more, which this scheme in South Africa had. And that’s why we felt it had to be challenged. Now it became

A big issue because when business challenges government, it’s very, very seldom that business takes government to court to the extent that we did. It’s halted in its tracks on a decision, on a very, very bad decision for this country. And know this, just know this, to those who still think it’s a good scheme. Sanral was telling the public and the media and the authorities that ETC won that contract on a 6.4 billion Rand contract for five years.

Well, the actual contract they’d signed four years earlier was at 9.8 billion. They were lying to the public. And this is how you get money offshore. It was an offshore company that got the contract. And this is how you steal from the country, billions a year. So, it had to be stopped. And we moved into a civil disobedience campaign because bad laws have to be stopped through disobedience sometimes, which is exactly how the group areas act.

law was stopped, it was a litigation process one by one until they got what they got the winning court and that’s the journey we went down. Now when I resigned from Avis, I could see at the time, look I’d had really good innings at Avis, I really enjoyed the company and the fact that I was given the autonomy to do so many different things. Take a

different leap outside the corporate boundaries, the normal corporate boundaries. So we became the first company to become carbon neutral in the country. We introduced leading customer satisfaction programs, leading to the extent that Avis in South Africa had the highest market share of every Avis operation around the world. We had over 40% of market share in the highest and most competitive car rental market in the world. So, we had…

We did some really exciting stuff. And to me, it was exciting that we could get the industry behind this challenge of government’s irrational e-toll plan, which by the way, user pay scheme needs 90% plus compliance. Otherwise, they fail and they failed in many places around the world, our research showed, when they got to 80%. Well, this scheme never got above 40%, by the way, because they could never enforce. But it needed the narrative.

of the people who had done the research and digging to give the public the strength to stand up and be counted and say not on our watch, we are going to challenge the government. And what happened as business came on board so very quickly did government lean on these businesses. Now remember I was Chief Executive at Avis chairing the car rental industry and the fleet industry and managed to convince everybody.

to come on board and fund this Court challenge. It was going to be very expensive. The minute the government leant on these big fleet company owners, the big players here, the Barlow Worlds, the Imperial Groups, the CMHs, the Bidvests, they all own these big fleet companies. They ran away. They pandered to government’s threats of, you know, you’re going to be struck off the procurement roles and business shouldn’t be challenging government, but it was the right challenge to bring.

And so, the heat was on and I could see that and feel that. I mean, I saw the emails from Sanral to these two government, two presidency saying, take your businesses away from these companies who don’t pay the e-tolls. And this, you know, I went to a number of civil activist organizations and said, look, this is not my game. I’m a businessman. Please, can you take this matter over? It’s taking so much time. I’m trying to…

be involved in the strategies of a very competitive car rental company. And the media is very demanding on very good fights like this, because it’s very seldom that business takes government on, we won our interdict initially. It showed, it gave wind in the sails of society to say, you can challenge government. And it was so important that we didn’t drop this ball, whichever way it went. And the more we approached various civil society organizations,

The more I got the very clear message from them is that A, you’re the subject matter experts, B, you started this fight, you better end it, or you cower and walk away now. That was a real decision. And I sat down with my bosses and said, look, you know, I can’t do both jobs. This is very demanding. Let’s have an exit strategy. I could feel they never put me under any pressure, by the way, but I could feel there was a lot of discomfort.

especially at the higher levels in the holding companies. The government was leaning on them. I mean, I was summoned to Luthule House and had a big discussion and argument with Gwede Mantashe who is the chairperson of the ANC and Nonvula Mokanyani, all these people that are so intertwined into what is wrong with this country today. And they were trying to put pressure on me. And I said, no way, are we gonna stop this fight? You are wrong. And I explained to them, they wouldn’t hear, they wouldn’t listen. And of course, people who are going to be

benefiting from a deceitful scheme, are not gonna hear why you have to fight it or why they should stop it. And so, I had to make a choice, either I do this full-time or remain a corporate man full-time. So that in a nutshell was where it came down to, let’s enter into exit strategy. And I really thought, Christél at the time, I really thought that things would come to their senses, government would come to their senses, and they would realize they’d made a mistake

pull the plug and I would be able to go back into the corporate world somewhere else, even back to Barloworld maybe and carry on with my life. But little did I know, as you said today, 12 years later a very different space but enjoying every single minute of it.

Christél: So getting back to the question of how do you stay positive through all of this? Do you have some magic potion?

I get asked this question often, because we do a lot of talks around why it’s important for civil society to exist, first of all, and for business and the citizens to become part of the solution. And let me just say this, that we are playing in a very negative space, which is corruption, it’s extremely, I mean, people are…

people are exhausted. People are becoming corruption fatigue and negative news fatigue. But our team, let me just tell you very quickly as you come to your subject on the startup, this was a startup of a civil activist organization with a difference. When we decided to go beyond details and we got our funding model right, we said we’re going to run this like a business. In other words, we’re a nonprofit, we’re an NGO,

but we’re going to have good governance. We’re going to recruit the best people. We’re going to pay them market related salaries and make sure we do all our marketing and communications and strategy properly and get a good board. And so, we set out to do that. And we built an organization that’s a little bit different to the normal NGO that does a good job at exposing and the media do a good job. We wanted to go beyond that and build up a litigation watch is to start holding corrupt people accountable.

lay charges, help the NPA prepare their cases, get people like Dudu Myeni, declare delinquent directors and so on. But when you’re doing this work and you know it has a positive impact, I mean, we know we’re not stopping corruption in its tracks. It’s a massive tsunami that’s coming at us every day. But what we do know is this, that out of the 260 projects that we’ve taken on, some of them are very short and quick, some of them are presentations to parliament.

and some of them are long, they take years, six years, they cost a lot in litigation. But when you add all of that up, we’ve got an 83% success rate of all our applicable projects and we know that we are saving this country billions of rands, billions of rands. Just a quick example, the Guptas were about to slip the Tegeta rehabilitation funds for their mine out of this country through the Bank of Baroda, 1.8 billion.

The government’s supposed to stop that. They’re supposed to make sure that these trust funds are there for rehabilitation of violence. And they were looking away. So, we had to rush to court and interdict that. That was a very quick case. And we saved the country 1.8 billion rand there. And we had to point out to Gwede Mantashe and his team, you’re asleep at the wheel. And they still are on all these rehabilitations. And there’s another project looming there. When we took the president to court in the beginning of this year on the…

matter related to the disaster, declaring a state of disaster on electricity, we stopped that in its tracks and they had to pull back on that case and that declaration. Why? Because the minute you have a state of disaster declared, you can start slipping in under emergency procurement things like car power ships. And that’s a disaster. So, we’re also in court against Nersa to stop car power ships. That is going to be a monumental costly nightmare for this country. And so the list goes on.

It’s working in a negative environment of corruption, but every day our team go home and go to sleep knowing that whatever they did on that day, however they advanced the projects that we’re working on, we’ve got about 40 projects open at any one time, they know that they are making a difference to this country, a positive difference, and that is worth getting up for every day. It’s exciting work, even though we are tackling corruption, we know we’re making a difference. And that’s what

That’s what makes us highly energized.

Christél: Wow, super inspiring. As far as I know, you’ve got around 45 people working at OUTA at the moment. So you don’t have to do everything yourself, but you’re still very much involved. Do you ever have time to sleep?

Wayne: Yeah, you know, this is I was saying to somebody the other day. It’s it’s been more.

tougher running a 45-person organization that was running a 2000 person organization. But from many other different respects, it’s tougher because it’s a very flat organization and you can’t distance yourself too much. So, your sleeves are rolled up. You’re in the engine room, but you’re also trying to be strategic. We’ve got a good team. I mean, you know, if that’s the amount of interviews and things that I do, I can tell you it’s three times that because Stefanie Fick, our head of organization.

Rudy Heyneke and Julius Kleynhans, and probably another two or three people are also spokespersons on a number of these projects. So, you know, six years ago, I was doing all the interviews and spokesperson, today I do 20% of it. So, it’s delegated, the longevity is there, the intellectual property of how we operate is there, our staff really enjoy.

doing the work they do and they’re on board so passionate and so dedicated. So, it takes a lot of pressure off me, but you know, we’ve got governance stuff. So, you know, look after the finance manager, we have our finance meetings looking at how we can increase our donations because we cash strapped, even though we’ve got a good litigation war chest so we can fight fast.

But day-to-day cash flow gets tighter as inflation, it’s just like everybody else and people stop donating because they can’t afford it anymore So yeah, the NGOs biggest bane of their lives is to make sure they’ve got the funds to do their work.

Christél: I can imagine because in the meantime, you’ve got around 250 projects that you have to fund through all of us

Wayne: Yes, we’ve done 250 or 260 over the last seven years since we expanded beyond e-tolls. In 2016, we changed our MOI and we moved away from the brand which Ato was known as the opposition to urban tolling alliance. We then became the organization undoing tax abuse and widened our net. So, we’ve done 260 projects since then, but we’ve got about 40 open at any one time. And as we are closing projects, we…

where our executive team meets every Monday. And a part of our discussions is to approve new projects that have come at us to look at. And so, we’ve got a very, very structured process that we go through before we select a project. And let me tell you, we turn away a lot because, and multi-billion-Rand projects, because we just don’t have the time, or the capacity, or the expertise. And…

Most of the time we turn projects away because there’s not enough evidence. We need hard evidence when we tackle corruption and maladministration. So, yeah, it’s about 40 projects, but it’s cost a lot of money over this time. I mean, just the one project, having Dudu Myeni declared the delinquent director cost us over six million rand, and it was worth every cent because she may not serve on any boards now for the rest of her life. But bigger than that, that case and that project is a precedent.

for more delinquent director cases to be opened up and we are working with other entities that are looking at doing this more often. So very exciting work.

Christél: Well, super, super exciting. But another question that I have is, how many death threats have you had over the past 11 years?
Wayne: No, no, none. And I’ll tell you why. So, we’re not the typical whistleblower. They get the, and we work with them, and we help them just, you know.

negate those challenges. So, we’re not the whistleblowers. It doesn’t help. Look, one thing I do know right in the beginning, I was followed. Our team was followed. And I think when we started to do the research and then other security companies were giving us this information just by watching things on cameras in certain public places, and when we were alerted to that, we weren’t, I don’t think we were, we didn’t feel threatened from a life point of view. But

they wanted to know who was funding us, who we were meeting with and so on. And that’s why we were being followed. I know that our calls are listened to and tapped, uh, by the, uh, security or wherever the people are that want to listen to our stuff and the powers that be do that, you’ve seen a lot of this. Sam Sole has spoken about it. And I know it because sometimes when we talk about certain things on projects.

And I might make some certain statements. I see people reflecting on that, our opponents in the corrupt world, reflecting on things that they could have only picked up if our phone calls were tapped. So, yes, but you know what, our viewers, and once we’ve got a bit of a hint that maybe the hawks are gonna come and raid our office, I’m going back to Zuma’s days because they just wanted to disrupt them. And we find them in advance of the men and said, don’t have to raid our offices. You can come here, and you can put…

and officer at every single one of our desks can work with us and listen to every call and we’ll copy you on every mail because you cannot fight the truth. So don’t mess us around. We will give you all our stuff, download our computers. We will, but you know, we will always protect our information from our supporters. That database, it’s encrypted, it’s in offshore processes. So, our data is very safe.

and we keep our whistleblowers information extremely confidential. A platform that we’ve got called Whistly, where whistleblowers engage with us, it’s offshore. It’s even we don’t know the people who are engaging with us if they use that platform and choose to remain anonymous. But we have a way of communicating with them through the platform. So yeah, it’s just the way it is. We don’t feel threatened. And now that we’re bigger, you can take me out, but you’re not going to take OUTA down now. It’s too big.

So we don’t feel threatened at all.

Christél: I’ve read also in, I think it was on LinkedIn, we’ve made the comment on Professor Ricardo Hausman’s interview a couple of days ago, where you said, your words were understanding why we are failing, opens the door wider for positive change. That to me just reiterates the fact that you just keep on being positive.

Wayne: Yeah, you know…

Christél, that’s a good point. What we’ve got to be very careful of is not being blindly optimistic or living in this, you know, rose-tinted glasses world and thinking, well, it’s all, it’s a very, we’re in a very precarious position. But I always know, come from this position, that the potential for this country is immense when we know and see what we’ve got from a diversity point of view, flora, fauna, resources, coastline.

position in the planet geopolitically. We’ve got so much going for us. Our potential is just horribly underutilized and unlocked. If we can get that right and countries do turn around, but it takes effort and you’ve got to be relentless at this. And it doesn’t happen overnight. And we’ve got a big opportunity next year. And if not then, another few years, but things are turning, the reality is there.

and the onslaught of corruption is being heightened as a result of the potential changes, we’ve just got to remain on course and on track. And that interview, he really spelt it out. I mean, he’d been in this country, he understands that he’s done work for government, he’s advised and he advises other governments and he knocks the nail on their head. This is not just an Eskom issue, because if it was with unpack, why did Eskom fail? This is a systemic issue from the top down.

We have a government who’s out of touch with reality of what it means to serve its people. And this is not a country that can be fixed by just trying to fix a Transnet. Everything’s broken, everything from education to health to policing. Wherever you look, the systems within government are not geared to rule in the best interest of the people. It’s to rule in the best interest of a political party.

that is enriching itself and all its connected cronies like you cannot believe. And you cannot leave the people in charge of the solutions if they create the problems and they are the masterminds of that. So, they have to be removed. Now, you’re not going to necessarily do that. There’ll be a coalition government next year. But things will change from that point onwards. And it starts to change now.

There’s a lot of green shoots and good things happening with businesses involvement and fixing trying to fix government, but we have to do things differently. So yeah, that was a good interview. And when you start to understand where the issue lies is where you can start to understand how to fix it.

Wayne: Absolutely. But you mentioned about the elections coming up next year. You haven’t got any plans to start a Springbok party yet.

We get often asked, why doesn’t OUTA start a political party? And our research around the world shows that when NGOs try and do that, they fail horribly. So no, so look, we play in the space of politics because we’re fighting corrupt politicians, but we are apolitical. We’ll go after the DA and we have, we’ve challenged them in the Western Cape on pollution matters and so forth.

but they’re not at national government that we’re dealing with national taxes. So 90% of our work is always gonna be in that space. You know, we often get asked the question, well, why aren’t you tackling Steinhoff? Or why aren’t you tackling the banks on their manipulation? Now, it’s not that we condone that bad behavior, but we can’t do all the work of government. Firstly, secondly, government was asleep at the wheel on this brand manipulation stuff and Steinhoff stuff. We have got oversight authorities that need to do their work.

And we deal with corruption on taxpayers’ money, not on shareholders’ money. And if we don’t have the facts, we can’t fight anything. So, we get facts from whistleblowers. Nobody gave us information on standoffs internally from on the facts. And nobody gave us information on the eight years ago, bank manipulation stuff. We would happily go after them if we had all of that stuff fresh, but we also need to know. And we also look at government and say, why aren’t you doing your work? You’ve got…

all the oversight to tackle these matters, throw the book at them, arrest them, put them in jail. We want bankers that are manipulating the rent to do that, to do their job. I mean, and to interface the music as well. So, now look, we’re gonna, we’re not gonna get involved in politics, but we’re going to continue tackling the hard yards, doing the hard yards of holding people to account.

Christél: Well, that’s very, very good to know, but…

On a lighter note, you’ve had a couple of discussions on the influence that the Springbok rugby team had on South Africa. And how that could help us going forward.

Wayne: Yes, and that’s a good point, Christel, because I’ll tell you why. The politicians, especially the populist politicians, would love us to believe that we are a divided nation because they thrive on division.

They thrive on throwing class division, race division, gender division, and everything they can into the minds of the public so that they can put their narrative forward and try and get votes. Now, I can assure you, and the research was done by another organization a few years ago, that as much as we sometimes think we are divided as a nation, we are not.

We are so much more united than we think we are. And I challenge any of you to have the conversations with your neighbors, with different people of different cultures in this country. And if you go into the townships, you go into the rural areas, it is not the way the politicians paint it. And so, when we saw the Springboks succeeding, you only then have to look at how united we are.

That’s the catalyst. Those are the examples that show you that we do celebrate collectively in the streets, at the airports, meeting the Springboks. We are so united and it takes sport in an event like that to show us how united we are. So we must never let these politicians break that and get through to us in a negative way. And we must cherish that and we must reach out more to our fellow colleagues and citizens out there.

and do more together to show them they won’t break the spirit of the South Africans who want this country fixed.

Christél: Well, as long as the spring box keep on winning.

Wayne: Yeah, you know, it would be nice if the if the proteas had have won and it would be nice if the if the Bafana Bafana, which I can tell you right now, the whole soccer administration in this country is corrupt. It is so sad to see countries like Côte d’Ivoire and we struggled against Rwanda.

the other day and places like Mauritius, we battled to beat them. I mean, Côte d’Ivoire has got three soccer fields. We have got such potential to be a major player in the international soccer arena, but we have administration in sport in this country that has got no interest in advancing the sport and more interest in how much money they can make out of it. It’s quite sickening.

Christél: OUTA does not want to start a sporting division?
Wayne: We’ve got portfolios that we try and stick to on energy and transport and that, I mean, we’ve tackled the Minister of Sport Culture a little while ago on that big flagpole project. Remember that one? 21 million Rand for a flagpole. Yes. So yeah, we tackle sport issues, but corruption in sport at a public servant level.

Christél: Wayne, obviously from our discussion today, but also whenever I see you…

see or hear you speak, I do get the impression that nothing can get you under. I suppose you never feel like it’s time to pack it up and start playing balls.

Wayne: Yeah, you know, I’m 63 and not ready to retire. I think the whole retirement thing for me is, look it’s been pushed out. I had to deplete our family savings for

number of years because for the first four years of OUTA when nobody owned a cent and we spent a lot of money and we weren’t working So I can’t retire now firstly, but that’s another matter. But the next thing is if I could would I don’t think I would because this notion of retiring it at 65 or 63 is to me. It’s quite foreign. I think you when you start losing purpose I mean, I’m not saying you shouldn’t if you’ve got all the funds

and your journey, life’s journey is to go out there and enjoy what you’ve got, that’s great. That’s always lovely. And of course we wanna do that. So, I suppose I’d wanna do more of that, but never lose the purpose of making, just sharing the story of how powerful we are and how united we are as a people and what a difference we can make. And…

You know, it’s that adage I always quote on that says, you know, the person who makes the biggest mistake is the one who does nothing because they felt they could only do a little. You know, the little change you can bring in one person’s life changes that person’s life. And there are so many good people doing so much in the space of civil activism. There are thousands of organizations. Some of them are one person organization, others are bigger, doing good work.

And we need to find them, and we need to celebrate them and we need to support them. Without them the world would be a tough place.

Christél: But do you ever get days where you just feel like staying in bed staying at home?
Wayne: Yeah, get exhausted you know this this job is not a nine-to-five when the media want to interview you on a Saturday, Sunday you try and have a braai with your friend. So sometimes you know you just do get a bit…

frustrated, but we’ve got a very clear policy. We make ourselves available to the media at any time because we have to. The media is a good source of getting the narrative and the issue out to the public. So no, you get tired. You do get tired. Like anybody, I think you ask any corporate person who’s been working in the same industry for a number of years. You feel like you’re on a treadmill and you want to do things just for the sake of change.

Which is why we have discussions on change, changing the way we do our work at OUTA. I mean, we’ve introduced a four-day work week once a month. We tell our staff on this one Friday a month, middle of the month, get out and connect with the nature. You need to get out and do something different. We’ve introduced a no meetings Fridays. It doesn’t mean to say don’t work on those other Fridays, but you just clear the diary.

Trying not to set up meetings so we can just ease the pressure and clear our males and catch up with sometimes with our personal lives. So, we try to do things a little bit differently. But I’m like, I’m human, I think, like anybody. Of course, it gets tiring and hectic, and we’ve got to look after ourselves. So, we’ve got to remind ourselves to rest, to take some time off, and to get out there and do other things without, you’ve got to watch the stress levels.


Christél: Absolutely. So what do you do on a personal level to have fun and exciting ways to regroup, refocus and rejuvenate your soul?
Wayne: Yeah, look, it’s family. It’s important for me. A couple of kids down in the Western Cape. So my wife and I try and get down there every now and then. And then to Europe, we’ve got one son who lives in London. And I play a bit of golf.

I cycle, I’ve got a group of guys mountain biking on the weekends. So, Sunday mornings we’re out there getting the heart rate up. And yeah, so it’s generally it’s family stuff, better cycling, better golf and and just read a lot and just catching up on current issues.

Christél: Right. So your family and friends still knows you.

Wayne: Yeah, they do. They do. And thank God for them and thank God for my wife

who, you know, I don’t know if I could do this without it because you have to be so understanding and supportive when you’re trying to sit down and have a meal and you get called away, you’ve got to go to a protest or a crisis committee meeting on a Saturday. It does eat into your personal life. And if I didn’t have an understanding wife, it would be tougher, you know? So I’m blessed there. Our family’s blessed there. And yeah, it’s fun. Yeah.

Christél: Okay. I suppose no grandkids yet.

Wayne: One on the way, one on the way. So we’re gonna be grandparents next year, looking forward to that. My wife is conscious, beside herself, she’s been trying to be a granny for a long time.

Christél: I’d like to know what you do to become a granny.

Wayne: No, well, you know, I think, I think, you know, when once your kids have left home, you’re looking forward to what their offspring is going to do, where they’re going in the world, it’s the next generations, and you just…

want to see the offspring and the prodigies and what you’ve put into life. I think you reap as you get closer to want to sit back and look at the purpose and meaning of life. Sometimes it is about where the future generations are going and how you’ve had some influence in them.

Wayne: And can you imagine the little offspring being on the mountain bike with you? Yeah, absolutely.

Absolutely, I mean based in London it’ll be difficult to spend as much time as you want to. But yeah, definitely, I mean there’s nothing nicer than having an impact on youngsters’ lives and especially their family.

Christél: But you’ve mentioned getting outdoors when you mentioned your team and what you try and still in them. Is that something that you feel strongly about getting outdoors?

Wayne: You know…

I think we’ve got to connect more with the planet, with the biodiversity. We’ve got one planet. I think we are messing it up as humans, as the species. I’ve always said that if every other species on this planet could vote for one species to become extinct, the human being would be the one that every other species votes for. And, you know, I don’t want to get into the whole climate change debate in it, but I just want to get into the debate of if we can reduce…

our negative impact on the planet and improve our positive impact in many different ways, then I think we’ve got to do everything in that regard. So we’ve got a lot of work to do as a species to connect more with our planet. And if you get out there and you start, you know, touching the planet, just doing yoga barefoot, just walking in the mountains, just

taking up bird watching and just taking up things that bring us closer to nature. I think we start to have a greater respect for the planet. And if we can encourage everybody to do that more often, then I think we’ll be better off as a planet.

Christél: Without a doubt. I think sometimes it’s just very sad to see if you do get out to nature, you see how it is, nature is degrading.

I’m just thinking when I’m pedaling down the Vaal River, the state of the river, but that is a conversation for an entire another day. I don’t think that we’ll get all negative again on that.

Christél: But Wayne, if you could be 20-years old again, and you can change anything, what would that be?

Wayne: I would have taken up my passion to become a rock star more serious.

Yeah, I love music and you know you get to a stage where that door was closed but I used to play in a little rock band at school and then we went on ways and I enjoyed it. But became a business person.

So yeah, look, I’m saying that a little bit tongue in cheek. I don’t know. And hindsight is an exact science. I mean, my passion in the career was to be an architect. And my father, who was in the construction industry, spoke me out of it. And I think I was frustrated for many years of my life because one’s parents shouldn’t do that. But I was grateful in another sense, because it is one of those most…

up and down industries and I’ve got architect friends and it’s a hard, hard space. But if it’s your passion, I suppose you excel better at it. And it was a pain. So, yeah, I might have not listened to my father if I was 20 years old now and pursued that passion. And who knows where that would have taken me. I don’t know. Yeah, I think we would have, everybody if you ask that question, you will do certain things differently. And I think one of those areas is you’ll have a greater respect.

and understanding. I would have a great respect and understanding for people with wisdom who we need to spend more time with. And very often it is your grandparents, it is the people who’ve got so much wisdom and yet we tend to fob them off and race past them and then when they pass away you start to realize I should have spent more time with people that had a positive African, a positive contribution to take which they offered and you never took up.

That’s, there would be a change in that mindset, I think, if I was young.

Christél: And the reality is if they’re gone, they’re gone and you can’t have a conversation with them anymore.

Wayne: Exactly.

Christél: So metaphorical mountains that you still want to climb within the next three to five years.

Wayne: Hmm. So big ones, uh, setting up an entity that’s, that

helps to entrench an anti-corruption culture in the corporate world. And there’s some beautiful ways to do that, not only just through ethical processes, but helping companies to unpack conflicts of interest. Lovely tools we’ve uncovered there. Another one, and ready to go, we just got to try and find the finances or some exciting people who want to work with us on it, is to introduce a volunteering app.

and I don’t want to get too deep into this story, but exciting stuff there. And then to start unpacking, I think the future of how we run our countries and towns and cities is changing rapidly, not only here internationally, but here we’ve got some beautiful opportunities to enable citizens to force open the door. And it’s not a difficult door to push open because it’s already open. You just got to want to walk through it.

And that is to take over the functions of municipalities. So, for instance, if the municipalities aren’t going to manage wastewater treatment plants properly and as you’ve experienced from the Vaal and the people in the Cradle of Humankind experiencing now, raw sewage pollutes our waterways, fish die, and living people that live off our water die and will get sick. I think that the future of this country, we will see…

you know, joint partnerships between civil society, business and municipalities to formally set up special purpose vehicles that run wastewater treatment plants and take the money from the municipality who squander it in the wrong places. By law, legally, they have to fund all those, general, all those sewage fees they collect from businesses and residents into those special purpose

and operate wastewater treatment plants. Now you start thinking bigger potholes, you start thinking waste collection, and then you start looking at the examples in Cape Town and other cities around the world where waste is a revenue stream. And here we collected in Joburg, we dump it in a big heap, it’s a massive cost. I can tell you now that if we had the right to take away the waste collection from Pick It Up in Joburg.

and introduce a waste management civil society run organization and get the fees that the city collects, your refuse fee paid into that company. We would make that company through pyrolysis, through recycling, through there’s so much stuff. We would make a lot of money out of it instead of wasting it on waste dump. So those are the big picture journeys that I think we’ve got to go down. I would love to be…

part of, yeah, but I’m busy running OUTA. So, we’ve got to, we’ve got to find some succession, maybe better develop new ways of doing things. I really am excited. And our team talks about these all the time. But when you’re only 42 people with a cash trap cash flow, you can’t do much if we could just get more funding, we could change the world.

Christél: Speaking of funding, to what extend does your normal run-of-the-mill entrepreneurs play a part in your success?

Wayne: So our funding, 97% of it comes from the man in the street, the ordinary citizen who gives us an average of about 120 Rand a month. The combination of them and small businesses who give us the business donations, the monthly donations, about 450 Rand a month.

on average. A couple of other big businesses have given us nice big tranches to inject into the work that we do with no reciprocal feedback. If we go after them for corruption, they can’t say, I would be donating to you. But ours is a crowdfunding model. 97% of it, as I said, ordinary citizens making monthly donations through a debit order.

that adds up to the three plus million Rand a month that we need every month to run this organization. As I said, we’ve got professional people, investigators, legal people, communication specialists, and you’ve got to, this runs on people part, and we’ve got to remunerate them properly. We’ve got to pay our rent, our data costs, our hardware costs, and so the list goes on. So there’s a…

There’s a lot of costs in running a professional civil society organization and we need more. I mean, we should have 142 staff, not 42. And if we had that, we would just do so much more. But we can’t. We, you know, the money that we get, it’s tight. People, our donors do fall off when the economy hurts them and there’s inflation that works against us. So we need…

Here’s our plea, here’s our call. If we could just get a hundred companies, giving us between 10 and 20,000 a month, that’s half the salary of the average employee possibly, we could make an incredible difference because we could double this team. And so that’s what we’re looking for. We just need more and more people to understand that it’s actually worth while supporting civil society.

who tackles corruption seriously. Just imagine if car power ships was allowed to come in. Just imagine if that nuclear deal that Zuma wanted to happen that was going to cost us a trillion around where we would be today. And a lot of people say, yeah, but we would have never load-shedding. We would have, because not one of those nuclear plants would have been on stream yet, and we would have been sunk as a country. We would have spent half a trillion around already, and they still wouldn’t be operating. So…

We save, we helping business to succeed by doing what we do. Now, I know they’re gonna say, well, we’re not successful. Of course, they’re under tremendous pressure. But our message is this to business, big business, medium business, is that if it’s worth, if the fight that we bring and the work that we do is worth anything, ask yourself, well, how much is it worth per month? And if it’s worth anything, whatever you think it is.

just donate it. Just go into our website, takes five minutes. And you also get an 18A certificate at the end of the year. And SARS loves us and we’re a nonprofit public benefit organization. You get a tax rebate. You can claim that back or the big portion of it through your tax returns. And that’s individuals as well, by the way, citizens.

We just need more businesses and more people to come on board and support us. And then they can know they’re active citizens. They are doing their bit. They’re too busy. We know that. When I wore a corporate hat, I knew that I don’t have time to go and tackle the things that need to tackle. I know there’s so much wrong out there, but I also knew that it’s nice to know that there are some organizations out there that are doing it, and they need help. And I still to this day, can’t believe the amount of people.

that do meet saying, how you find we told them this? Oh, we didn’t know. Now, maybe we’re not doing a good job in communicating that out there. So thanks for the opportunity to talk about it. But yeah, we survive on donations, that’s it.
Christél: And I think the reality is that everyone’s got issues with everything around them, but they don’t have a time, not regardless if you’re in a corporate situation and definitely not.

If you try to run your own business, you’ve got even less time to run around and do anything that’s worthwhile. So it is better to get involved with an organization like yourselves.

Wayne: Yeah, know that we are going to spend that money wisely and we’re going to do good and make magic. We’re not going to stop corruption in its tracks, but we’re going to slow it down in big ticket items and areas.

And we’re going to do our best with it. And if we get more, I mean, you must also know that we build strong cases for the NPA. We work with them with the SIU. We’ve got some good relationships with good people in the government. And we know there’s a lot of good people in government that are also trying to fight corruption. So, we work closely with them. And it’s a mountain, but we’ve got to climb it, or we can go down the mountain and walk away and switch the lights off.

This country’s too beautiful and the people are just too precious to walk away. And I’ll just say to this OUTA team, these 42 staff, they are incredible and they are passionate. And without them, without our ability to just give them a decent salary every month, and hopefully a bonus once a year, which is not a massive, not even a 13th cheque sometimes.

It means a lot to them that they can earn a salary from an organization that treats them like professionals and that has the governance that we brought.

Christél: And is making the difference that it is making. Wayne, just very, very quickly, before we go, what would be a book that you can recommend to our listeners out there, especially people that are feel down and out, they need motivation? Is there anything else except your e-toll Saga book that you can recommend?

Wayne: I don’t know, you know, I’m not a big reader. I’m a current affairs reader, not getting too much into certain topics. Look, there’s a lot out there. I would think and I’m getting into it now. The book recently launched in the last few weeks by Adriaan Besson and it’s Who Will Rule in 2024 next year.

I’m told by somebody who’s really gone through, it’s a very exhilarating book and interesting because it does unpack the various dynamics and what can potentially happen. And it’s current and we’re going into 2024. And I think it’s got a lot to offer from, so it’s what I’m speaking from here, say to offer in the minds of people to understand that we’ve got to keep working at this and not all is lost. So that would be one.

for now off the top of my head and then there are a lot of you know good books out there Find something that’s going to uplift you in the way that I believe we should be seeing the world a bit differently.

Christél: And you don’t have any plans to publish a new book soon.

Wayne: Yeah, I’m being asked to and need to look at right book. I mean writing takes a lot of time if you’re gonna do it properly So gonna find the time but yes

putting something together that speaks to this journey. There’s been so much learning by the way, and I never stopped learning, I don’t think I ever can. And the journey of answers, transformation from a one project item to multiple, and the building of an organization, the strategy around that and how it evolves constantly. Sometimes it felt like we were building the car while we were driving it down a highway.

There’s so much to share there, the highs and lows of civil activism, where you sometimes just want to throw it all in, and then you look back and say, well, what stopped you from doing that? So that’s the type of theme in the book, how you deal with those lows and how you capitalise on the highs and how you ensure, and the big thing for us, our success. A lot of it is driven by…

communicating the narrative, understanding the issue, breaking it down, simplifying it and informing the people and the public of why this is important to do. There’s a notion out there called narrative economics. When you capitalize on the narrative well and it becomes the reality, you know, middle-class South Africans were never going to put themselves in a position to go to jail for not paying their retails.

But we empowered them with the reasons why they can and should and why they won’t go to jail, and why there won’t be repercussions. And when you empower people and get the narrative right, and you give them immense strength and passion, and that’s how we brought down the e-toll scheme for civil disobedience by ordinary citizens, middle-class citizens who you asked them the one fear they have, you don’t want to sit in the South African jail. And that was the threat that came from Sanral at the time. And we negated that threat.

The power of the narrative is so important. So yeah, I’m looking forward to putting that book together.

Christél: Wow, I can’t wait for that. Wayne, thank you so much. I don’t know, is there any final parting message for the people out there, summarize your feelings?

Wayne: No, Christél, just to you and organizations like yourselves who get the stories out there, thank you. Thanks for the time. And just to the people out there, don’t give up hope. We know it’s tough. It’s tough for everybody.

We’ve got a beautiful country, we’ve got amazing people. Don’t let the politicians divide us. Reach out to other people, share your stories, get people, encourage them to vote. Never adopt this attitude of, well, I don’t like any of the options side, I’m not gonna vote, I’m gonna abstain. Participate in democracy, support civil society organizations like ours, and never believe that your 150 Rand donation is not gonna make a difference. Because if that was the case of all of our supporters, we wouldn’t exist. So…

Become an active citizen and if you don’t have time, and we understand you don’t have time, just help organizations like ourselves who make the time. We’ll spend your money wisely. Just really thanks to all our supporters out there, because without you, we wouldn’t exist.