Deputy Public Protector calls for the institutionalisation of accountability, integrity and responsiveness in public procurement/ state contracts
Maladministration and corruption remain the key factors derailing public service delivery, Deputy Public Protector Adv. Kevin Malunga said, addressing the 3rd GovLaw Conference.
Speaking at the CSIR Convention Centre in Pretoria, where heads of governance and legal units from governments, state entities and academic institutions converged, Adv. Malunga said this was particularly the case in public procurement.
He noted the derailment of service delivery delayed the fulfilment of South Africa’s constitutional dream, which included redressing apartheid imbalances and gender inequalities, among others.
During his address Adv Malunga outlined the role the Office of the Public Protector plays in addressing complaints concerning tenders and state contracts. He noted the various complaints as being frequently raised namely;
- Failure to follow the normal tender procedures
- Complaints relating to the tender advertisements/ tender documents
- Adjudication/ consideration of tenders
- Cancellation of contracts
- Allegations of corruption, fraud or bribery
He emphasised that the Office of the Public Protector has been swamped with about 40 000 complaints in the past year alone and there is always an attempt to resolve all these timeously. For many small businesses failure to be paid on time often means bankruptcy.
Concluding his paper titled The Office of the Public Protector and State Contracts/Tenders – A discussion of Jurisdiction and Remedies, Adv. Malunga said that the concept of good governance was essential for the fulfilment of an improved quality of life for all as promised in the constitution.
He noted that government had put in place a comprehensive regulatory framework to ensure that the state procures goods or services in a manner that was fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective.
“However, reports by the Public Protector, Auditor-General and research by oversight bodies such as the Public Service Commission have consistently shown weaknesses in the implementation of the framework,” Adv. Malunga said.
He called for the next phase of the effort to ensure adherence to sustainable economic procurement practices to be focused on institutionalising the principles of accountability, integrity and responsiveness in the public service.
Adv. Malunga said it was important for integrity institutions such as the Public Protector SA, which have jurisdiction over public procurement, to remind government and its officials of the promises made to provide a better life for all citizens.
He emphasised that the point was not about the Public Protector having teeth but being the conscience of the state. “If government listens to the complaints of citizens it will probably earn their trust,” he said. “It then becomes a win win situation as constitutional democracy is enhanced and trust in government is improved.”
He noted that the reverse will probably happen if government does not listen to the complaints of citizens.
The conference ended of Thursday.