Public Protector is baffled by the Minister’s action but stands by her report
On 28 February 2014, the Director-General of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries sent an implementation plan to the Public Protector in respect of the Remedial Action which emanated from the findings made in the final report of the Public Protector which was released on 05 December 2014. The Director-General also requested for an extension with revised timelines thus agreeing to the remedial action.
The Public Protector responded to the Minister on 03 March 2014 and expressed her appreciation of the Department’s commitment and desire to implement the remedial action contained in her report. Whilst the Public Protector was awaiting further developments on the implementation of the remedial action as per the DG’s letter she was surprised by the announcement that the Minister is taking the report on review. Now that the matter has been taken on review it would mean that the Minister has effectively reneged on the implementation of the remedial action
Regarding taking the Public Protector’s report on review, that is part of the legal process, though on the facts and the regulatory framework, the Minister’s action is likely to result in fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
While we appreciate that the matter is now before the courts, the Public Protector wishes to place on record that in terms of the Executive Members Ethic Act, “the President must within a reasonable time, but not later than 14 days after receiving a report on a Cabinet member, submit a copy of the report and any comments thereon, together with a report on any action taken or to be taken in regard thereto, to the National Assembly.”
The Public Protector commends the Minister for respecting the rule of law by seeking to get a higher authority to review her decision. She, however, believes the action is premature as the President has to apply his mind to the report and decide what to do with it. Thereafter the matter should go to Parliament and only after the internal accountability processes under the Executive Members’ Ethics Act have been exhausted can the matter go to court on review.
The Public Protector further firmly believes that no court of law is likely to find that with the facts before her, she was irrational in finding that the Minister acted recklessly and improperly in respect of preserving the sea patrol and research functions of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Issued by :
Public Protector South Africa
Tel: 012 366 7006
Fax: 0866 261 143
Cell: 079 507 0399