Public Protector addresses Nkomazi communities
Public Protector Adv Thuli Madonsela on Wednesday expressed a concern over the limited number of service delivery complaints brought to her office by communities in Mpumalanga.
Speaking at Kamhlushwa township outside Malelane, the Public Protector told locals that only 994 complaints had been received in the province during the 2010/11 financial year. She said this was not reflective of a province that was home to 3.6 million people.
She said her office was making efforts to comply with the constitutional injunction to be accessible to all persons and communities.
The Public Protector also dispelled perceptions that her office only focused on conduct failure and maladministration cases involving high profile government leaders, indicating that such matters amounted to a fraction of her caseload.
“Contrary to popular belief, matters concerning ordinary people make up a lion’s share of the more than 16 000 cases I deal with on an annual basis,” she said, adding that such matters included delayed and denied services relating to identity documents, housing, social grants, unemployment insurance fund and pensions.
The Public Protector called on communities to lodge complaints as early as possible to avoid suffering unnecessarily. Often, she said, people waited for years before approaching her office with complaints.
“When they finally bring their grievances to our attention, we resolve them in a short space of time but at that point the person has already endured a lot of misery,” she explained.
Among the issues raised by communities was accessibility of the Public Protector’s services and need for satellite offices. Locals complained that the institution’s only two offices in the province, which are located in Nelspruit and Siyabuswa, were far and this made it difficult to lodge complaints. The Public Protector assured communities that plans were afoot to alleviate the problem.
Other key issues raised by the community included complaints over identity documents and welfare concerns of undocumented people who’ve been in the country for years, confiscation of property by police, at the borders, management of land reform, social grants.
The event formed part of a two-month nationwide stakeholder consultative process launched on 12 July under the theme “The Public Protector Dialogues with the Nation.”
The process aims to solicit feedback on the Public Protector’s work and foster a common understanding of the institution’s mandate and role, focusing on the importance of implementing remedial action.
This is for purposes of ensuring administrative justice by organs of state in respect of service failure and exacting accountability in the exercise of state power and control over public resources.