Public Protector addresses NADEL annual meeting and conference
South Africans must admit that while apartheid and colonialism remain responsible for the delay in delivering basic services, a lot of progress could have been realised had it not been for maladministration and corruption in the public sector, says Public Protector Adv Thuli Madonsela.
Speaking at the Annual General Meeting and Conference of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL) in Mthatha on Saturday, the Public Protector said there was clear evidence that the housing backlog among the things government was grappling with forms part of the legacy of apartheid but corruption was also responsible for a portion of the backlog.
“If we are honest to ourselves as a people, we will admit that while delivery on basic services ... has been delayed by the enormity of the legacy of apartheid and colonialism, there are many areas of delivery that could and should have been achieved had delivery not been derailed by corruption,” she said.
The Public Protector said as the country commemorated Constitution Week, a focus week aimed at raising awareness about the country’s supreme law, which came into force in February 15 years ago, the “constitutional dream” needed to be realised.
She called on NADEL as a “natural member of forces that are for clean governance” to be a voice of reason on what her office was and what its place in a constitutional democracy was.
The Public Protector said people continued to think of democracy pillars only in terms of Parliament, the Executive and Courts, which was the case before the new constitutional dispensation.
“What is needed now is a paradigm shift that acknowledges the role of oversight bodies such as the Public Protector as additional avenues for justice and public accountability mechanisms,” she said.
She told the gathering that one of the contended issue relating to her office’s powers was is the meaning of “taking appropriate remedial action” as envisaged in section 182(1) (c) of the Constitution.
“Often when we insist on implementation, we are told that the Public Protector is not a court of law. This flies in the face of global jurisprudence on the role of the Ombudsman.
“The reality also is that there are many structures that are not courts but have the power to take enforceable remedial action. In regard to the Public Protector, the global idea is that the state must implement unless cause can be shown that the Public Protector’s decision was unreasonable.”
She said NADEL was uniquely placed to continue to be a force for ethical governance. It was important that legal advice to government did not encourage the paradigm of “might is right” when dealing with its own people, the Public Protector said.
She had been asked to address the meeting on the topic: “Engaging the Public Protector: Corruption in the Public Sector- Nadel’s role towards anti-corruption and good governance”.
For more info contact:
Public Protector South Africa
Tel: 012 366 7035
Cell: 072 264 3273
Saturday, February 25, 2012