Government urged to prioritise human rights spending
Human rights enshrined in chapter two of the constitution are non-negotiable items that government ought to prioritise in its service delivery planning, Public Protector Adv Thuli Madonsela says.
Delivering the 10th Griffiths and Victoria Mxenge Memorial Lecture at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Thursday night, the Public Protector said government planning was often an impediment to effective service delivery.
She cited a case where the Eastern Cape provincial department of education justified to her the existence of a mud-built school, with one toilet for both its 581 pupils and 14 teachers, saying the school was not in its list of district priorities.
"It would be interesting to check if, round about the same time we got this response, officials at the same department did not buy themselves new office furniture and the like," the Public Protector said.
She said her office's non-judicial enforcement of the Constitution helped direct systemic change and reinforce the ethos of ethical governance without waiting for these to be invoked in pleadings.
The Public Protector called on the academic community at the University of KwaZulu-Natal to draw from its rich history of human rights and justice to contribute to the promotion of good governance in state affairs.
She said citizens had to be empowered with information on how government works so as to enable them to engage meaningfully with those entrusted with public power to avoid frustrations that lead to public protests.
Initiatives such as street law programmes, which the university used during apartheid to provide legal education and services to trade union and the poor, had to be reintroduced, the Public Protector said.
“This legal empowerment of the marginalised could be extended to civic empowerment of our people to strengthen role in exacting accountability in the exercise of public power.”
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Friday, April 20, 2012