Public Protector Adv. Madonsela addresses mismanagement allegations
Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela on Thursday called an urgent media briefing to address reports of allegations of mismanagement contained in a letter addressed to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts Chairperson Mr Themba Godi, by an anonymous author purporting to represent black employees in her office.
Denying that she had not acted on the allegations, the Public Protector said the allegations of maladministration and financial mismanagement, while directed at the Chief Executive Officer are about maladministration in her Office and therefore include her.
“It is not true that I am not dealing with the allegations, I am dealing with them. Firstly, it is not true that the letter was handed over to me by Mr Godi or anyone in Parliament. On receiving the letter sent to me by a priest who accidentally received from his mail, I immediately referred the matter to my administration for answers. A team comprising two senior managers was immediately established and tasked with conducting an inquiry into the veracity of the allegations contained in the letter.
Adv. Madonsela said she did not have to investigate all the allegations as some of them are not true as they relate to decisions taken by herself. On whether others are true, she said she did not want to pre-empt the outcome of the inquiry.
“As soon as I get the report, which I’ve been advised will be ready in the coming week, the report will be assessed and then referred to our internal Good Governance and Integrity Committee which is chaired by the Deputy Public Protector. I have never ordered a witch-hunt for whistle-blowers and will never do so” she said.
On the decision she took, she cited the example of an Indian Official that was transferred to KwaZulu Natal to be close to his family as he has a problem with his health. On the young lady who is said to be travelling with her to make her tea, she found her in her private office as a Refreshments Coordinator and converted her into an Assistant PA whose responsibilities include correspondence, travel coordination and other assistant PA related matters.
She refuted allegations contained in The New Age report saying she was called to Parliament to answer on the allegations.
“I met with Presiding Officers of Parliament in Pretoria to discuss issues relating to Protection of State Information Bill, it had nothing to do with the allegations. It was about how I engage Parliament about issues and inform them about matters relating to Parliament that my Office deals with before they read about them in the media” she said.
On the allegation of preference of whites she said that “there has never been preference for any racial group. Most of our staff members are black, at senior management, my private office, and the CEO’s office”.
In her delegations, only one white and one Indian persons accompanied her and the Deputy Public Protector also had one white person in her delegation. The majority of officials who travelled overseas are black not because of preference but based on horses for courses.
On CEO lying to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, the CEO was called to account in Parliament because of a qualified audit in the 2009/10 obtained before his time and the answers provided were true at the time. On the years he has been the CEO, the Office got unqualified audits.
The Case Management System was the subject of an audit finding in the year preceding the current Public Protector, it was irregularly procured predating both the CEO and the Public Protector. Both were not responsible for the purchasing of the system. Study Tours have been conducted and systems which are working well were looked at and colleagues from United Kingdom who know Case Management Systems tested it and found it not to be working well.
The Public Protector assured the media that there were no incidences of financial mismanagement at the moment, adding that the internal audit and the audit committee had not brought any such to her attention.
Responding to a journalist question, the Public Protector said the allegations surfaced at the time when the Office was dealing with a problem over Performance Rewards where she is refusing to reward non performance.
“I will not reward people that treat complainants unjustly or fail to discharge their responsibilities effectively and efficiently. I will only reward excellence.”
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Thursday, March 15, 2012