Freedom meaningless if citizen’s rights are disregarded by state – Adv Madonsela
Public Protector Adv Thuli Madonsela opened a new regional office in Phuthaditjhaba, Free State, in a move aimed at bringing the services of the institution closer to communities located in the eastern part of the province.
Addressing hundreds of residents gathered at the offices of Thabo Mofutsanyana District Municipality, Adv Madonsela said it was not right that 16 years into a free South Africa, some state organs still disregarded people’s basic rights.
She said she was particularly concerned about rights that impacted on people’s participation in the economy such as citizenship and socio-economic rights, which are affected by poor delivery of IDs and social grants respectively.
Highlighting the significance of opening the office a few days after the commemoration of Freedom Day, Adv Madonsela said South Africa’s freedom would be meaningless if citizen’s basic rights continued to be disregarded by the state.
“Government should also be concerned about service delivery that undermines these and related rights as this has a negative impact on the attainment of poverty eradication objectives and the achievement of the country’s millennium development goals,” she said.
Adv Madonsela added that, over the next few years, her office would focus its attention on improving its accessibility to communities, providing prompt remedial action and promoting good governance in state affairs.
Also speaking at the function, Speaker of the Free State Provincial Legislature Khotso Sesele said the Public Protector has a critical role to play in tackling abuse of power by government and organs of state.
He said the impartiality and independence of the Public Protector were demonstrated in the recent investigation into allegations of breach of the Executive Members Ethics Code by President Jacob Zuma.
Provincial Chairperson of the Free State House of Traditional Leadership, Morena Thokwana Mopeli encouraged communities to use institutions such as the Public Protector in order to enjoy their rights. Dr Balekile Mzangwa, Executive Mayor of Maluti-A-Phofung Local Municiaplity, said the presence of the Public Protector office in the area would contribute significantly to the fast-tracking of service delivery in the local government sphere.
The Public Protector is constitutionally required to be accessible to all persons and communities. The new office brought the total number of Public Protector regional offices across the country to nine. This is over and above the nine provincial offices and the head office in Pretoria.