Acting Public Protector releases investigation reports
Acting Public Protector Adv. Kholeka Gcaleka hereby publishes the office’s findings in respect of nine recently concluded investigations. The findings are being published in compliance with section 182(5) of the Constitution, read with sections (2A) (a) and 8(1) of the Public Protector Act No. 23 of 1994.
In terms of this legal framework, the office’s investigation reports must be published and findings must be made known to any person in a manner the Public Protector deems fit unless exceptional circumstances require that the reports be kept confidential.
The reports cover an array of critical maladministration and service delivery issues mainly at municipal level. They include staff recruitment, labour disputes, procurement, executive ethics and citizenship concerns, among other things.
In one of the main reports, MECs of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs across seven provinces have been directed to put measures in place to support and strengthen traditional councils to fulfil their functions.
This includes measures such as helping traditional authorities to enter into service delivery agreements with municipalities in accordance with the Traditional Leaders Governance Framework Act (TLGFA).
The MECs must also put in place measures to promote partnerships between municipalities and traditional councils in line with the TLGFA and the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act.
These directives follow adverse findings emerging out of an own-initiative systemic investigation on relations between traditional leadership and the local sphere of government and the impact thereof on the quality of public services delivered at the level of the grassroots.
The investigation revealed that provincial departments as opposed to their national counterpart were the culprits when it comes to failure to promote partnerships between district municipalities and Kingship or Queenship Councils in terms of TLGFA.
Provincial departments were also found wanting in relation to providing information to traditional leaders and councils on their assigned roles and functions and providing information to traditional leaders and councils on the Provincial Gazette which regulates their participation in proceedings of a municipal council and prescribes their role in the affairs of a municipality.
The departments also failed to provide traditional leaders and councils with information on their funding, resourcing and remuneration.
The investigation was prompted by the Public Protector’s observations during public hearings held as part of the office’s National Stakeholder Dialogue Roadshow of 2017. The common thread throughout the engagements was the public’s dissatisfaction with service delivery at local level.
It was gathered that one of the factors hampering service delivery at the local sphere of government was the apparent strained relations between some traditional leaders and local government authorities.
In one province, completed RDP houses built by a municipality on traditional land stood as white elephants due to disagreements between the municipality and the local chief, much to the disadvantage of the community.
Following the roadshow, the Public Protector held further hearings with stakeholders across the country on 24 and 25 October 2017. Traditional leaders were afforded an opportunity to interact with the office, with a view to providing a platform for them to voice matters of concern.
The MECs, supported by the Director-General of the national department, have further been directed to provide information to traditional leaders and councils on their assigned roles and functions in terms of section 20 of the TLGFA.
This remedial action is applicable to MECs in the Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and North West provinces. They have 90 days from the date of the report to implement the remedies.
In another local government matter, the Speaker of the Tsantsabane Local Municipality in the Northern Cape has been directed to take disciplinary action against Municipal Manager, Mr. H.G. Mathobela, over the irregular temporary appointment of four officials.
This after a Public Protector investigation revealed that the officials in question — Manager: Strategic Support, Ms. Patricia Wetbooi, and Ward Committee Clerks, Ms. Keitumetse Bosman, Ms. Miena Oliphant and Mr. G. Tonyane — were appointed without their position having been advertised, the filling of the positions having not been approved by the municipal council and the positions not appearing on the municipality’s approved staff establishment.
The investigation followed a 22 August 2017 complaint by Member of the Municipal Council, Mr. Allister Davids, that Ms. Wetbooi, Ms. Bosman, Ms. Oliphant and Mr. Tonyane were irregularly appointed in 2017.
The Public Protector found that the appointments also resulted in irregular expenditure in respect of the remuneration paid by the municipality to the appointees as contemplated in the Municipal Finance Management Act.
The Speaker has 60 working days from the date of the Public Protector’s report to implement the remedial action.
In a procurement matter, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure has been cleared of any wrongdoing regarding its award of a lease agreement/tender to prominent media firm, Tiso Blackstar Group.
This follows an investigation into alleged procurement irregularities concerning a building bearing the address Hillside House, 17 Empire Road, Park Town in Johannesburg, which housed the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
A complaint by Mr. Tebogo Anthony Kaulela at the Public Protector’s Northern Cape provincial office in Kimberley on 12 November 2018 gave rise to the investigation.
In his complaint, Mr. Kaulela alleged that the department awarded the lease agreement/tender without following due process and contrary to the Supply Chain Management processes outlined in the Public Finance Management Act.
However, the investigation revealed that while the department did not follow the competitive bidding process when procuring accommodation for the commission it did follow a negotiated procurement process.
The negotiated process was in line with Treasury Regulation 3 of 2016/17 and the deviation in that regard, together with the reasons thereof, was approved by Treasury as justifiable and in line with the prescribed regulation.
Where adverse findings have been made and appropriate remedial action taken, Adv. Gcaleka urges the affected organs of state to implement the remedies fully as this is critical not only for seeing to it that justice is done but also for correcting the system so as to prevent recurrences in the future.
The Public Protector South Africa is firmly committed to contributing towards its shared and overarching purpose of strengthening constitutional democracy. In executing its constitutional mandate of investigating, reporting on and remedying any alleged or suspected improper or prejudicial conduct in state affairs or in the public administration, in all spheres of government, the office will continue to do so independently and impartially, and without fear, favour or prejudice.
Full reports regarding these and eight other investigations can be accessed on the Public Protector South Africa website, www.pprotect.org.