Public Protector asks for R200 million in additional funding
The Public Protector South Africa requires an additional R200 million to be able to deliver optimally on its constitutional mandate, Parliament heard on Wednesday.
This emerged during Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela's meeting with the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services to brief members on her office's budget, strategic plan and annual performance plan.
The bulk of the money, an estimated R162 million, is needed to fill 276 of the 598 posts on the structure approved by Parliament and later quality-assured by the National Treasury and the Department of Public Service and Administration. Up to 122 of the unfunded positions are those of investigation staff.
The rest of the required funds, if granted, would be used to, among other things, finance the acquisition of an electronic case management system for efficiency (R12 million), litigation to deal with the new phenomenon of being taken to court (R10 million) and the establishment of a fully-fledged call centre to maximise access (R2.1 million).
While Parliament considers the request, the Public Protector said her office will work within the R246.1 million budget allocated for the current financial year. She said her office has had to adjust its performance tactics in the face of limited resources.
The office would be rolling back on outreach related activities, choosing to ensure access to services through social media and radio, the Public Protector said. She added that the opening of new offices would be deferred in favour of a focus on the mobile office service.
In addition to these, the Public Protector told members that her office would be working hard to empower government to create competent internal complaint resolution mechanisms, with a view to reducing the number of cases that come to her office. She gave examples of the Military Ombud and the City of Joburg's Ombudsman, which her office helped establish.
Unaudited figures show that during the year that ended in March 2015, the office finalised 21 170 of the 29 303 complaints it handled during the same year.
The finalised cases saw people's dignity being restored while also ensuring that state moneys lost through improper conduct were recovered.
The bulk of the cases related to maladministration, undue delays in rendering services, unlawful and improper prejudice and improper conduct. Other cases concerned conduct failure, including fault lines identified in respect of executive privileges.
"Let it never be said that indifference, self interest and expediency prevented us from building a formidable partnership against maladministration, in all its forms from indifference to corruption," she said.
The Public Protector assured Parliament that her office had put in work to address issues identified by the Auditor-General in the last audit, with a view to ensure that such concerns do not recur.
The Public Protector further apologised unreservedly for comments she made in relation to the judgment of Judge Ashton Schippers of the Western Cape High Court. She reiterated her respect for the Judge and the judiciary at large.
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